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Dig Dis Sci. 1997 Nov;42(11):2299-303.

Touch cytology. A reliable and cost-effective method for diagnosis of Helicobacter pylori infection.

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Department of Internal Medicine, S. Anna Hospital, Ferrara, Italy.


A variety of reliable methods are available for detecting Helicobacter pylori (Hp) during upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. We evaluated the clinical utility and cost-effectiveness of rapid urease test (RUT), touch cytology (TC), and histology (H). Two hundred thirty-eight consecutive patients (178 without previous medical treatment and 60 formerly treated with anti-Hp therapy) were tested for Hp infection by RUT, TC, and H (H&E stain). The infection status for each patient was established by a concordance of two test results. The time to carry out the three tests and their cost were also calculated. Sensitivity of TC (100%) was significantly higher than that of RUT (86.8%; P < 0.001), but not than that of H (94.9%). RUT was significantly more specific than H (100% vs 95.6%; P < 0.05), but not than TC (96.4%). Hp infection was more frequent in the patients with chronic active gastritis than in those with chronic nonactive gastritis (P < 0.001). No Hp infection was detected in absence of chronic antral inflammation. RUT resulted the cheapest method and H the most expensive; TC is faster and cheaper than H. When additional information about the severity of mucosal damage or the presence of cell atypias is not necessary, histologic examination can be omitted, and a cost-effective strategy for assessing Hp status might consist in taking two antral biopsies, the former for performing RUT and the latter for preparing a slide by TC, which should be stained and examined only when the RUT result is negative.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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