Approximately 20-25% of patients with peptic ulcer disease develop complications-bleeding, perforation, or obstruction. Although the majority of patients with complicated ulcers are infected with Helicobacter pylori, the prevalence of infection appears to be lower in these patients compared with patients with uncomplicated ulcers. Among patients who present with a bleeding ulcer, approximately one-third will develop recurrent bleeding in the following 1-2 years if left untreated after ulcer healing. A number of studies have shown that the recurrence of rebleeding is virtually abolished if patients receive H. pylori eradication therapy. In contrast, the rate of rebleeding in patients receiving maintenance antisecretory therapy is around 10%. Thus, H. pylori infection status must be determined in patients presenting with complicated ulcer disease and, if positive, eradication therapy initiated. Eradication should be documented at least 4 weeks after the end of therapy (by endoscopic biopsy or urea breath test) and maintenance antisecretory therapy discontinued if the infection is cured.
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