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Aim:

To perform a meta-analysis evaluating the efficacy of H2-receptor antagonists in functional (nonulcer) dyspepsia.

Selection of studies:

A Medline search was used to identify placebo controlled randomized clinical trials, using the subject headings dyspepsia and H2-receptor antagonist.

Outcome measures:

Global assessment by the patient of dyspepsia symptoms, improvement of epigastric pain and complete relief of epigastric pain.

Results:

Twenty-two studies met the inclusion criteria, 15 of which reported the active drug to be superior to placebo. Many studies suffered from suboptimal study design. The odds ratio in favour of active drug was 1.48 (95% confidence interval: 0.9–2.3) for global assessment of dyspepsia symptoms, 2.3 (95% CI: 1.6–3.3) for improvement of epigastric pain, and 1.8 (95% CI: 1.2–2.8) for complete relief of epigastric pain.

Conclusion:

There is some evidence that H2-receptor antagonists are superior to placebo in functional dyspepsia, but larger studies evaluating higher doses of H2-receptor antagonists and of longer duration are necessary to determine the exact effect size.