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Acta Médica Costarricense

versão On-line ISSN 0001-6002versão impressa ISSN 0001-6012


MOLINA-CASTRO, Silvia et al. Primary culture of Helicobacter pylori from endoscopic gastric biopsies. Acta méd. costarric [online]. 2022, vol.64, n.2, pp.24-32.  Epub 01-Jun-2022. ISSN 0001-6002.


To document the recent experiences on the implementation of sampling and culturing Helicobacter pylori in Costa Rica, to compare it with other diagnostic methods: rapid urease test and histopathology and to describe the diagnoses associated with the obtained isolates.


Descriptive research involving patients who visited the digestive endoscopy department of the Clínica Bíblica hospital in San José, Costa Rica between February and July of 2019 for gastroscopy. Gastric biopsies were obtained and histopathological analysis, rapid urease test, and bacteriological culture for Helicobacter pylori were performed. For culture techniques, the sample was transported in an in-house semi-solid medium. Biopsy fragments were macerated and plated on Skirrow agar and Helicobacterselective in-house agar, and incubated in microaerophilic atmosphere for 48 hours to 10 days. Culture positivity was determined by observation of the colonial morphology and microscopic observation; Gram staining and biochemical tests (urease, catalase, and oxidase) were used for bacterial identification.


44 patients (mean aged 50.6 ± 10.0 years old, 54.5% male) were included in the study. Helicobacter pylori was recovered in biopsies from 27 patients (61.4% success rate). Bacterial growth was similar regardless the culture medium, but the physiological state of the bacteria was better in the Helicobacter-selective agar than in Skirrow. The weekly recovery rate increased to reach a 100% recovery plateau on week 11. Culture was compared with the rapid urease test in 27 patients, and the concordance between both methods using Cohen's kappa coefficient was 0.48. Whilst the culture detected Helicobacter pylori in 56% of the patients, and the rapid urease test in 37%, the combination of both allowed a 60% rate. The most frequent endoscopic diagnosis in patients with positive cultures were erythematous gastritis and chronic superficial gastritis, and the predominant histopathological diagnosis was chronic atrophic gastritis. Culture-based diagnosis was consistent with the histopathology detection of Helicobacter pylori in 80.4% of the cases.


The implementation of H. pylori culture in Costa Rica is possible. This study had a 61.4% recovery rate. The combination of culture with rapid urease test and histopathology increases the probability of an accurate and timely diagnosis. We recommend that, based on previously described protocols such as ours, each laboratory adjusts the conditions to allow a good recovery rate and implement H. pylori diagnostic methods most suitable to their routine activities.

Palavras-chave : gastric atrophy; gastric cancer; bacteriology; diagnostics.

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