Published online Apr 21, 2006. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v12.i15.2313
Revised: December 2, 2005
Accepted: December 22, 2005
Published online: April 21, 2006
H pylori gastric infection is one of the most prevalent infectious diseases worldwide. The discovery that most upper gastrointestinal diseases are related to H pylori infection and therefore can be treated with antibiotics is an important medical advance. Currently, a first-line triple therapy based on proton pump inhibitor (PPI) or ranitidine bismuth citrate (RBC) plus two antibiotics (clarithromycin and amo-xicillin or nitroimidazole) is recommended by all consensus conferences and guidelines. Even with the correct use of this drug combination, infection can not be eradicated in up to 23% of patients. Therefore, several second line therapies have been recommended. A 7 d quadruple therapy based on PPI, bismuth, tetracycline and metronidazole is the more frequently accepted. However, with second-line therapy, bacterial eradication may fail in up to 40% of cases. When H pylori eradication is strictly indicated the choice of further treatment is controversial. Currently, a standard third-line therapy is lacking and various protocols have been proposed. Even after two consecutive failures, the most recent literature data have demonstrated that H pylori eradication can be achieved in almost all patients, even when antibiotic susceptibility is not tested. Different possibilities of empirical treatment exist and the available third-line strategies are herein reviewed.