OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy of rescue therapy using rifabutin, amoxicillin and a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) in the eradication of Helicobacter pylori in patients who have failed at least one course of PPI-based triple therapy.METHODS: The present study was a single-centre case series of 16 consecutive patients who had received at least one course of standard eradication therapy. Pretreatment evaluation included endoscopy with biopsies for histology and culture for H pylori infection. Treatment consisted of a one-week regimen containing a PPI twice daily, amoxicillin (A) 1 g twice daily and rifabutin (R) 300 mg once daily (PPI-AR). Post-treatment evaluation consisted of a repeat endoscopy with biopsy for histology and culture, or a validated urea breath test at least four weeks after treatment was completed. Pretreatment antibiotic susceptibility to metronidazole, clarithromycin and A was evaluated using a validated epsilometer test.RESULTS: Of the 16 patients, four had previously received one course of triple therapy, 10 had received two courses and two had received more than two courses. The overall success rate of PPI-AR was 63% (10 of 16). Resistance to A was 0% (0 of 13), metronidazole 77% (10 of 13), clarithromycin 70% (seven of 10), and both metronidazole and clarithromycin 60% (six of 10). There was no correlation between resistance patterns and cure rate.CONCLUSIONS: An R-containing regimen such as PPI-AR is a viable option as rescue therapy for H pylori infection.