Scanning Microscopy


The close association between Campylobacter pylori (CP), gastritis and peptic ulcer is now well established. Moreover increasing evidence has been collected of a major etiological role of CP in type B chronic gastritis. For this reason, searching for CP is essential in all patients with upper gastrointestinal symptoms.

Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is a most reliable technique for studying the distribution of microorganisms and their relationship to the gastric mucosal surface.

The aim of this paper is to compare SEM to other routine methods of detection for CP, such as Giemsa staining on histological sections and Urease Microtiter Test (MT) on fresh tissue and to investigate the surface morphology of gastric mucosa colonized by CP and to correlate it with the histopathological picture. Thirty-seven biopsies taken from the gastric body and the antrum of 22 patients were used for each type of determination. The different parameters were graded semiquantitatively. Histology showed a normal mucosa in 4 cases, chronic superficial gastritis in 12 and chronic atrophic gastritis in 21 cases. SEM was more sensitive than histology and Urease MT in detecting Campylobacter pylori. This is due to the patchy distribution of this bacterium on gastric mucosa. For this reason SEM should always be performed when routine tests are negative. The presence of CP correlated significantly (p < 0.001, Spearman Rank Correlation Test) with the neutrophilic infiltrate, thus with the "activity" of the gastritis. The CP associated gastritis has no distinctive surface features other than the presence of the bacterium SEM morphology of surface gastric mucous cells suggests that CP does not damage the lining epithelium directly. Neutrophils and inflammatory mediators could be involved in the production of the mucosal lesions.

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