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Summary

Due to its prevalence, impact on quality-of-life and the associated significant health resource utilization, dyspepsia is a major healthcare concern. The available management strategies for uninvestigated dyspepsia include prompt endoscopy, the ‘test-and-treat’ strategy for Helicobacter pylori, and empiric antisecretory therapy. There is consensus that endoscopy should be reserved for patients with alarm features (e.g. symptom onset after 45 years of age, recurrent vomiting, weight loss, dysphagia, evidence of bleeding, anaemia), H. pylori-positive individuals who fail test-and-treat, and those with an inadequate response to empiric antisecretory therapy. Factors influencing the decision between test-and-treat and empiric antisecretory therapy in uninvestigated dyspepsia include the local prevalence of H. pylori and peptic ulcer disease and the proportion of ulcers attributable to H. pylori. For uninvestigated dyspepsia in patients without alarm features, test-and-treat is the preferred initial management method in Europe based on the relatively high prevalence of H. pylori/peptic ulcer disease whereas empiric antisecretory therapy is preferred in many parts of the United States, where the prevalence of H. pylori/peptic ulcer disease is relatively low. In patients with non-ulcer dyspepsia, H. pylori eradication and empiric antisecretory therapy result in comparable and small, but statistically significant, improvements in dyspepsia. Empiric antisecretory therapy is the preferred initial method of managing non-ulcer dyspepsia in Europe and the US. The test-and-treat approach would receive increased enthusiasm if H. pylori cure is shown to prevent development of gastric cancer in non-ulcer dyspepsia patients in a large Western trial.