Can the urea breath test for H.pylori replace endoscopy for the assessment of dyspepsia in primary care?
Fraser AG. McIntosh C. Berry S. Moore L.
Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Science, University of Auckland, Auckland.
AIMS: The urea breath test may have value in the initial assessment of dyspepsia in primary care. This pilot study tracks patient and general practitioner behaviour which cannot be predicted with modelling studies. METHODS: The urea breath test was made available over a period of 18 months. The test was requested when general practitioners would normally have used a trial of medication or referred for endoscopy. Patients with a positive urea breath test had early endoscopy before treatment. Patients with a negative urea breath test were treated according to symptom response. A follow-up questionnaire was given 6-24 months after the urea breath test. RESULTS: Urea breath tests were requested on 249 patients; clinical notes and follow-up interview data were available for 207 patients (83%). The urea breath test was positive for 89 patients (43%); 70 were referred for endoscopy and peptic ulcer disease was found in 33 (47%). The urea breath test was negative for 118 patients; 14 were follow-up tests after previous H.pylori treatment. For the 104 patients with dyspepsia, a negative test and no previous treatment, 42% had 1 or more previous investigations for dyspepsia and 66% had dyspepsia symptoms for more than one year. During follow-up, 21 patients had endoscopy. Dyspepsia symptom scores were significantly lower at follow-up (p < 0.01). Using a global assessment, 66% had fewer symptoms, 22% same and 12% had more symptoms. The symptom improvement was greater if the duration of symptoms was less than one year (p < 0.05). Medication use did not change significantly. Twelve patients were dissatisfied with management; most of these would have preferred endoscopy. CONCLUSIONS: A negative urea breath test appears to have some reassurance value. The use of the urea breath test as initial assessment for dyspespia may prevent the need for some endoscopy. Further controlled studies of breath testing compared with early endoscopy are required.
Injecting behaviours and prevalence of hepatitis B, C and D markers in New Zealand injecting drug user populations.
Kemp R. Miller J. Lungley S. Baker M.
Drugs and Health Development Project, Wellington.
AIM: To determine the seroprevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis B virus (HBV) & hepatitis D virus (HDV) markers of infection among injecting drug user populations in New Zealand and to examine the relationship between demographic features, risk behaviours and infection. METHODS: A total of 323 current injecting drug users completed a questionnaire that explored their needle and syringe using behaviours. Information was collected on injection pattern, sharing behaviours and methods of cleaning needles and syringes. Two hundred and forty-one respondents gave blood samples which were tested for hepatitis B, C and D markers. RESULTS: Over half the respondents (59%) were male and 41% were female. Most (89%) identified as European. Sixty-four percent were anti-HCV positive. The likelihood of infection increased with age and duration of injecting. Forty-one percent (33/81) of those aged 25 or under, sixty-four percent (45/70) of those aged 26-30 and eighty-seven percent (78/90) over 30 were anti-HCV positive. Those who tested anti-HCV positive had been injecting for an average of 12.0 years compared to 6.0 years for those were anti-HCV negative. The results for hepatitis B are to be reported fully at a later date. Sharing behaviour was also a factor although this was less important as an independent factor. Comparisons with earlier surveys suggested that there has not been a significant decline in the rate of sharing needles and syringes since the initial period following introduction of the needle exchange programme. CONCLUSION: The prevalence of hepatitis C infection is common among injecting drug users of all ages. Without a significant reduction in sharing behaviour, particularly among younger injecting drug users, it is unlikely that the prevalence of hepatitis C among injecting drug users will decline in the future. Evidence suggests that the carriage of hepatitis C is higher than that of hepatitis B which would help explain the differing rates of prevalence. However, the risk of future transmission of other parenterally transmitted diseases remains high without a further significant decline in sharing behaviour.
Chronic hepatitis B virus infection in south Auckland.
Department of Gastroenterology, Middlemore Hospital, Auckland.
AIM: Previous studies have identified high prevalence rates of hepatitis B infection in New Zealand Maori, Pacific Island and Asian populations within New Zealand. However, the true impact of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection on health resources has not been evaluated. This study was designed to determine the incidence of serious sequelae of chronic HBV infection in a high prevalence community. METHODS: All patients treated for HBV-related conditions at Middlemore Hospital from January 1995 to January 1997 were identified through discharge coding and laboratory records. Demographic characteristics and laboratory results, including liver function tests, hepatitis serology and liver histology were recorded. Number of admissions, average length of stay and survival were calculated from Casemix data. RESULTS: During the study period, 215 patients were referred for management of hepatitis B infection, of whom 179 had persistently elevated aminotransferases. Forty six percent of patients were hepatitis B 'e' antigen (HBeAg) negative, and 21% of these had delta co-infection (all Samoan). Liver biopsy was performed in 87 patients with raised aminotransferases. No features of chronic hepatitis were found in 5%, mild chronic hepatitis in 30%, moderate to severe chronic hepatitis in 44% and cirrhosis in 22%. Fifty five patients were admitted to hospital during the two year period with an HBV-related diagnosis, with an average length of stay of 12.2 days compared to 4.9 days for all other medical and surgical admissions during this period (p < 0.001). Twenty eight of the 55 subsequently died, 20 from hepatocellular carcinoma. CONCLUSIONS: Chronic hepatitis B infection is associated with significant morbidity and mortality in Maori, Pacific Islanders and Asians living in South Auckland. Screening of these high risk populations with vaccination of noninfected individuals should reduce the incidence of these serious sequelae and eventually lead to eradication of HBV.
Hepatitis B virus carrier prevalence in New Zealand: population estimates using the 1987 police and customs personnel survey.
Blakely T. Salmond C. Tobias M.
Communicable Disease Centre, Porirua. email@example.com
AIM: To estimate the population hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) carrier prevalence for adults in New Zealand. METHOD: Data for 1987 from the New Zealand Police Department and New Zealand Customs Department hepatitis B sero-marker survey were further analysed. The sample size was 5510 staff who had completed a questionnaire, had blood sera taken and were not already immunised against hepatitis B. RESULTS: Maori adults had a HBsAg carrier prevalence of 5.43% (95% confidence interval 3.07-8.81), Pacific adults 4.44% (1.65-9.42), and European adults 0.42% (0.26-0.65). Other ethnic minorities and people with two or more self-assigned ethnic identities had a carrier prevalence of 3.85% (1.06-9.56). There were non-significant differences in this study for carrier prevalence by sex, age and region. CONCLUSIONS: Policy formation on screening programmes for hepatitis B carriers should assume a HBsAg carrier prevalence of about 5% for Maori, Pacific people and ethnic minorities, and about 0.5% for New Zealanders of European extraction.