<b>Background:</b> H. pylori eradication is usually performed with three or four drugs for at least seven days. Recently four reports have shown a cure rate of approximately 90% using a four-day quadruple therapy. The objectives of this prospective study were: 1) to evaluate the efficacy of pantoprazole-based quadruple therapy, and 2) to compare the efficacy and tolerability of four-day with seven-day quadruple therapy.
<b>Methods:</b> The study was performed in a single centre. The first 56 consecutive patients with nonulcer dyspepsia or peptic ulcer disease and proven H. pylori infection received seven days of quadruple therapy (pantoprazole, bismuth, tetracycline and metronidazole). At least six weeks after treatment, endoscopy was repeated with six biopsies of the antrum and corpus for histology, urease test and culture. The next 59 consecutive patients followed the same protocol but received four-day quadruple therapy.
<b>Results:</b> Using an intention-to-treat analysis, the cure rate in the seven-day treatment group was 54/56 (96.4%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 87.7-99.6%). In the per protocol analysis the cure rate was 53/55 (96.3%, 95% CI 87.5-99.6%). Primary metronidazole resistance was observed in seven patients. All were cured. Using an intention-to-treat analysis, the cure rate in the four-day treatment group was 51/59 (86.4%, 95% CI 75.0-94.0%). In the per protocol analysis the cure rate was 50/58 (86.2%, 95% CI 74.6-93.8%). Primary metronidazole resistance was observed in seven patients, four of whom were cured. In three out of eight patients in whom four-day treatment failed, secondary metronidazole resistance was induced. Both treatment regimens were well tolerated. The difference between cure rates of both regimens did not reach statistical significance (p=0.0585).
<b>Conclusion:</b> Routine use of both four-day and seven-day pantoprazole-based quadruple anti-H. pylori treatment is effective and well tolerated. The results of both regimens reach the required eradication standard, but results with the seven-day regimen were slightly but not significantly better. Seven-day treatment may be superior, especially in case of metronidazole resistance, and should be preferred.