Helicobacter pylori and Hetertopic Gastric Mucosa in the Upper Esophagus (the Inlet Patch)
Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) may colonize gastric mucosa wherever it is found in the GI tract. Heterotopic gastric mucosa in the upper esophagus (inlet patch) is a potential site for H. pylori infection and may provide a reservoir for oral-oral transmission or a niche where antibiotics might have difficulty reaching. The aim of this study was to analyze the intensity and distribution of H. pylori in the inlet patch. Whenever a cervical inlet patch was observed, mucosal biopsy samples were taken to confirm the endoscopic diagnosis and to search for H. pylori and active inflammation. In addition, mucosal biopsy samples were also taken from the gastric mucosa. Formalin-fixed biopsy specimens were cut and stained with a new dual stain developed in our laboratory. The stain is a combination of periodic acid-Schiff and a silver stain that allows simultaneous visualization of H. pylori and gastric type epithelium. The density of H. pylori was scored using a visual analog scale of 0 to 5. The type of mucosa in the inlet patch was also recorded. The study included 48 patients; 37 had H. pylori gastritis and 27 of these (73%) had H. pylori identified on their heterotopic gastric mucosa. A higher density of H. pylori in the stomach was associated with a higher prevalence in the inlets. Active inflammation correlated with active infection in the inlet patch and the presence of antral type mucosa. H. pylori colonization of heterotopic gastric mucosa in the upper esophagus is common and is closely related to the H. pylori density in the stomach. The fact that H. pylori was not found in all cases suggests that another event such as reflux may be required for H. pylori to colonize heterotopic mucosa.