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After completing the therapy, H. pylori follow-up status testing shall be done within what time frame to ensure H. Pylori has been completely eradicated?
a. 7 days
b. 72 hours
c. 4 weeks
d. 6 months
e. a month
Answer: (c) Before the seriousness of H. pylori infections was fully appreciated and when it was still believed that H. pylori eradication therapy could routinely cure more than 90% of patients, confirmation of cure testing was not routinely recommended.
Although confirmation for cure testing is currently considered the standard of care, preferably with noninvasive tests such as the stool antigen or a urea breath test, it is often not done.
Post eradication testing is not only useful to confirm H. pylori eradication but also serves to alert the clinician when resistance begins to undermine their locally effective current regimens. In this issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Gatta et al report a pilot study suggesting that it may be possible to accurately assess cure using changes in serum pepsinogen II levels.
A positive urea breath test (UBT), histology, culture, or rapid urease test (RUT) any time after therapy is considered as evidence of treatment failure. However, it has been recommended that posttreatment testing be delayed for at least 4 weeks after the end of therapy.
This recommendation is based on the fact that it takes time for any remaining bacteria to recover and repopulate the stomach in sufficient numbers to be detected reliably. By 4 weeks, the accuracy of a negative test is in the range of 98% to 100%.
There is little or no gain by repeating negative tests to ensure success (e.g, 2 negative urea breath tests) as a second urea breath test has not shown an increase in accuracy and adds an incremental cost with little clinical benefit.
One caveat among available noninvasive tests is that when using the stool antigen to assess outcome, it may be best to increase the interval from 4 to 6 or 8 weeks to ensure that a positive result is not false positive.
The available data show that the stool antigen tests that use monoclonal anti-H. pylori antibodies are more reliable than polyclonal stool antigen tests and monoclonal antibody-based stool antigen tests are recommended.
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