Background: We studied whether different initial bacterial densities of Helicobacter pylori would alter the eradication rate of H. pylori by triple therapy (amoxicillin 500 mg t.i.d. and metronidazole 500 mg t.i.d. for 14 days; bismuth subcitrate 120 mg t.i.d. for 28 days) in patients with duodenal ulcer bleeding. Method: One hundred thirty-six cases with duodenal ulcer bleeding and H. pylori infection (proved by rapid urease test and histology during emergency endoscopy) were studied. One hundred twenty-seven of these patients completed a course of triple therapy. In each case, anti-H. pylori IgG titer, gastric biopsies for H. pylori density (score 1 to 5), and evaluation of severity of gastritis were collected at the first endoscopy and 1 month after completion of the triple therapy. Results: The ulcer healing rate was 84.3% (107 of 127) at the time of the second evaluation. The eradication rate of H. pylori was 76.4% (97 of 127). Eradication for H. pylori failed in 30 cases. In these eradication failure cases, initial serologic titer and density of H. pylori were higher than those of eradication success cases. The eradication rate of H. pylori decreased as the initial density of H. pylori increased (density of H. pylori: 1, 88.3%; 2, 83.8%; 3, 74.2%; 4, 68%; 5, 50%). At the second evaluation, the serologic titer was lower and continued to decline in eradication success cases whose mean residual titer ratio (100% x follow-up titer/initial titer) was lower than that of eradication failure cases (57.1% ± 14.6% vs 107.1% ± 24.1%, p < 0.001). The mean residual titer ratio also disclosed an upward trend as the density of H. pylori increased (density of H. pylori 1 to 5: 57.5%, 66.6%, 73.5%, 75.3%, 81.8%, respectively). Conclusions: We suggest routine gastric biopsy to detect both the presence of H. pylori and its density inasmuch as quantitative results may predict the usefulness of triple therapy. The higher the H. pylori density, the less effective triple therapy will be at successful eradication of H. pylori.
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