Helicobacter is the main cause of the major gastroduodenal pathologies and the modes of transmission are still unknown. Dr. Luciano Corazza, an expert in Gastroenterology in Matera, describes it in detail
What is Helicobacter Pylori?
Helicobacter Pylori, is a spiraling bacterium discovered in 1983 that has radically changed the approach to gastric diseases, since it is the etiological agent of the most important gastroduodenal pathologies. Helicobacter colonizes the gastric mucosa causing alterations of gastric cells and acid-hydrochloric secretion, conditions predisposing to the onset of related diseases. About 50% of the world's population hosts this bacterium in the stomach, predominantly in the eastern countries and South America.
How are you infected?
The methods of transmission of Helicobacter are not unknown and man is the only known "reservoir" of this bacterium. The most probable mode of contagion is faecal gold through contaminated water or food or oral-oral through saliva.
Symptoms and diagnosis of Helicobacter Pylori
Helicobacter infection, usually asymptomatic, can occur with symptoms similar to gastritis or gastric or duodenal ulcer (nausea, heartburn, stomach pain or digestive problems) and are caused by infection. Helicobacter infection is related to the pathogenesis of gastric cancer and above all is associated with a 2-6-fold increase in the risk of MALT lymphoma. This association is confirmed by epidemiological studies and by the regression of lymphoma after the eradication of the bacterium.
Diagnosis of Helicobacter Pilori infection is performed by invasive tests (eg execution of EGDS) and non-invasive tests. The first ones are:
1. Rapid urease test: with gastric biopsy specimen in culture medium containing urea and its color change from yellow to red in the presence of Helicobacter; tests with sensitivity and specificity close to 90%.
2. Histological examination on gastric biopsy: It represents the Gold standard in the diagnosis of HP with a sensitivity and specificity of about 99%.
3. Culture examination on gastric biopsy with possible antibiogram. Test with high specificity (i.e.100%) but with sensitivity from 77% to 92%.
Non-invasive tests are:
1. Serology: by detection of IgG antibodies against H. pylori. This test, with high sensitivity and specificity, does not discriminate the infection in progress due to eradication.
2. C13 Urea Breath: Exploits the urease activity of the bacterium, provides oral administration of urea labeled with C13 and evaluation by C13 spectrometry in the expired. Tests with very high sensitivity and specificity.
3. Research of H. pylori antigen in faeces. Sensitivity and specificity similar to those of the 13C Urea Breath.
How to cure?
When Helicobacter infection is diagnosed, it is recommended to be eradicated with oral antibiotic therapy in combination with Proton Pump Inhibitor drugs to be followed for 10-14 days. Since the methods of transmission of H. Pylori are still poorly understood and scarce are the preventive measures available, careful cleansing of the hands is recommended, avoid eating inadequately cooked food and drinking only drinking water.