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Background:

Helicobacter pylori eradication decreases ulcer recurrence and should prevent recurrent ulcer haemorrhage.

Aim:

By meta-analysis, to compare treatment of H. pylori infection with other approaches to prevent recurrent ulcer haemorrhage and, by cost minimization analysis, to determine the least costly strategy.

Methods:

We searched for randomized, controlled trials comparing treatment of H. pylori infection with ulcer healing alone or with maintenance therapy in preventing recurrent ulcer haemorrhage. We calculated the relative and absolute risk reductions and numbers needed to treat.

Results:

Treatment of H. pylori infection decreased recurrent bleeding by 17% (numbers needed to treat=6) compared with ulcer healing treatment alone. Compared with ulcer healing treatment followed by maintenance therapy, recurrent bleeding was decreased by 4% (numbers needed to treat=25). Decision model-based cost minimization analysis demonstrated that treatment of H. pylori infection was the least costly strategy unless the incidence of complicated recurrences after treatment was over 6%, or the cost of confirming eradication was over $741.

Conclusions:

Treatment of H. pylori infection is superior to ulcer healing treatment with or without maintenance therapy in preventing recurrent ulcer haemorrhage. All patients with ulcer bleeding should be tested for H. pylori infection and appropriately treated if positive.