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Helicobacter pylori.

Helicobacter pylori is a gram-negative bacterium which causes chronic gastritis and plays important roles in peptic ulcer disease, gastric carcinoma, and gastric lymphoma. H. pylori has been found in the stomachs of humans in all parts of the world. In developing countries, 70 to 90% of the population carries H. pylori. In developed countries, the prevalence of infection is lower. There appears to be no substantial reservoir of H. pylori aside from the human stomach. Transmission can occur by iatrogenic, fecal-oral, and oral-oral routes. H. pylori is able to colonize and persist in a unique biological niche within the gastric lumen. All fresh isolates of H. pylori express significant urease activity, which appears essential to the survival and pathogenesis of the bacterium. A variety of tests to diagnose H. pylori infection are now available. Histological examination of gastric tissue, culture, rapid urease testing, DNA probes, and PCR analysis, when used to test gastric tissue, all require endoscopy. In contrast, breath tests, serology, gastric juice PCR, and urinary excretion of [15N]ammonia are noninvasive tests that do not require endoscopy. In this review, we highlight advances in the detection of the presence of the organism and methods of differentiating among types of H. pylori, and we provide a background for appropriate chemotherapy of the infection.

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