Helicobacter pylori (HP) infection is associated with many gastrointestinal disorders, including gastric cancer, and consensus guidelines recommend eradication after detection. There is a theoretical, yet uninvestigated, concern that HP treatment could increase the risk of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). Using the data from a large cohort of patients with HP, we investigated whether HP eradication is associated with CDI.
A retrospective cohort study within the Veterans Health Administration on 38,535 patients (median age 61.8 years; 91.8% men) with detected HP between January 1, 1994, and December 31, 2018 was conducted. Primary outcome was a positive laboratory test for CDI within 3 months of HP detection. Multivariable logistic regression evaluated the following: patient demographics, previous CDI, recent hospitalization, and whether the patient received HP eradication therapy (by antibiotic and regimen, and including proton pump therapy). Secondary analysis of those treated evaluated whether eradication of HP was associated with CDI.
Among 38,535 patients, 28,818 (74.8%) were treated for HP and 284 (0.74%) developed CDI. In multivariable analysis, prominent factors included hospital discharge within 12 weeks (odds ratio [OR] 2.15; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.22–3.77) and 4 weeks (OR 3.46; 95% CI: 2.18–5.48), P < 0.001, and previous CDI (OR 12.5; 95% CI: 9.21–17.0, P < 0.001). Treatment of HP was not associated with future CDI. In secondary analysis of those treated, confirmation of eradication was not associated with future CDI (OR 1.49; 95% CI: 0.67–3.29).
In a large study of US patients with HP, we demonstrate that neither treatment nor eradication of HP is associated with CDI. Previous C. difficile infection and recent hospital discharge, established risk factors for CDI, are strongly associated. These findings suggest that treatment should be continued to be prescribed when HP is detected (http://links.lww.com/AJG/B507).