Helicobacter pylori infection is the main cause of gastritis, gastroduodenal ulcers and gastric cancer. H. pylori eradication has been shown to have a prophylactic effect against gastric cancer. According to several international guidelines, the first-line therapy for treating H. pylori infection consists of a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) or ranitidine bismuth citrate, with any two antibiotics among amoxicillin, clarithromycin and metronidazole, given for 7-14 days. However, even with these recommended regimens, H. pylori eradication failure is still seen in more than 20% of patients. The failure rate for first-line therapy may be higher in actual clinical practice, owing to the indiscriminate use of antibiotics. The recommended second-line therapy is a quadruple regimen composed of tetracycline, metronidazole, a bismuth salt and a PPI. The combination of PPI-amoxicillin-levofloxacin is a good option as second-line therapy. In the case of failure of second-line therapy, the patients should be evaluated using a case-by-case approach. European guidelines recommend culture before the selection of a third-line treatment based on the microbial antibiotic sensitivity. H. pylori isolates after two eradication failures are often resistant to both metronidazole and clarithromycin. The alternative candidates for third-line therapy are quinolones, tetracycline, rifabutin and furazolidone; high-dose PPI/amoxicillin therapy might also be promising.
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