Objective: Endoscopic biopsy and serological methods were compared for their ability to detect Helicobacter pylori infection in patients undergoing upper gastrointestinal endoscopy at a state university hospital. Methods: Subjects were characterized on the basis of gastrointestinal symptoms, endoscopic findings, socioeconomic and demographic features, and the use of certain medications, tobacco, and alcohol. Current infection was detected in gastric antral specimens by rapid urease testing, histopathology, and bacterial culture. Serum levels of IgG to H. pylori were measured by ELISA. Results: Of 240 subjects, 115 (47.9%) were currently infected as determined by rapid urease testing, histopathology, and/or culture results, whereas 63.3% had elevated anti-H. pylori IgG levels (p < 0.001). This difference in the prevalence of current infection and seropositivity was preserved when the study population was analyzed according to age, race, gender, and other characteristics. Prior use of antibiotics was associated with a significant reduction in the frequency of H. pylori infection. Conclusions: Serological evidence of H. pylori infection was consistently greater than the prevalence of infection documented by biopsy methods in this study, suggesting suppression or recent clearance of infection. Further studies are needed to examine the factors that may affect the detection of H. pylori infection.
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