Background Helicobacter pylori is an important risk factor for gastritis, peptic ulcers and gastric cancer. The prevalence in developed countries is lower than 40 % but higher than 80 % in some developing countries. It is 75 % in Ghana. The Helicobacter urease test (HUT) is performed at endoscopy and gives an accurate diagnosis. The HUT is not routinely done at our facility and presumption of H. pylori is made based on endoscopic findings and H. pylori eradication prescribed, as the incidence in the general population is presumed high. Is this endoscopic diagnosis sufficient for diagnosing and treating H. pylori? We aimed to assess the feasibility of an endoscopic based H. pylori diagnosis and its accuracy using a HUT as the gold standard in consecutive patients. Methods Seventy-six consecutive adult patients with dyspepsia were assessed by upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. A clinical diagnosis of H. pylori or not was made. Biopsy samples were collected for HUT. H. pylori was diagnosed if HUT was positive. The results were then compared. Results Median age of patients was 45.0 years. H. pylori prevalence detected by HUT was 51.3 % (95 % CI 40.0–63.0). Sensitivity of endoscopic diagnosis of H. pylori was 71.8 % (95 % CI 55.1–85.0) and specificity was 37.8 % (95 % CI 22.5–55.2). There was no association between clinical findings (73.7 %) and HUT (26.3 %) (OR = 0.80; [95 % CI 0.24–2.64], p = 0.682). There was also no association between endoscopic diagnosis (71.8 %) and HUT (28.2 %), (OR = 1.55; 95 % CI 0.59–4.06, p = 0.373). Conclusion Helicobacter pylori infection was not as high as that published in earlier reports. The endoscopic diagnosis alone is not sufficient to make a diagnosis of H. pylori.
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