• diagnostic tests;
  • frailty;
  • Helicobacter pylori;
  • older patients

OBJECTIVES:Helicobacter pylori infection has not been well studied in older people, especially in hospitalized, frail patients. The aim of our study was to evaluate the prevalence of the infection in this population using five H. pylori diagnostic tests.

DESIGN: Prospective observational study.

SETTING: Geriatric acute care unit of the Department of Geriatrics (Hôpital Xavier Arnozan, Pessac, France).

PARTICIPANTS: One hundred seven consecutively hospitalized patients with a diagnostic indication for upper gastrointestinal endoscopy.

MEASUREMENTS: Geriatric assessment, information on drug intake, indication/results of gastric endoscopy, and results of H. pylori infection diagnostic tests (culture and histological analysis on biopsy specimens, serology, 13carbon-urea breath test (13C-UBT), detection of H. pylori stool antigens (HpSA)) were assessed for each included patient.

RESULTS: Fifty-one patients (47.7%) were H. pylori positive with at least one test. 13C-UBT was more frequently positive than the other four tests, with a significant difference from culture, histological analysis, and HpSA (P < .05). Positive 13C-UBT results were significantly associated with H. pylori presence using histological analysis and neutrophil activity of the antrum and corpus. Antibiotic treatments significantly decreased the positivity rate of all of the tests performed, and severe corpus atrophy decreased the positivity rate of culture, histological analysis, and HpSA.

CONCLUSIONS: Almost one-third of the H. pylori–positive patients would have remained undetected without performing the 13C-UBT. The low prevalence of H. pylori detection in these hospitalized, frail patients may be explained by the high frequency of current and previous antibiotic treatments.