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Helicobacter Pylori Breath Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

The Helicobacter Pylori Test is done to check for H.pylori infection in the upper small intestine or in the stomach. This infection can cause peptic ulcers.

Tests For Detecting Helicobacter Pylori Infection

There are four tests to detect Helicobacter pylori. Following are the tests:

  • Blood antibody test: A blood test is done to check if your body has antibodies to the H.pylori bacteria. If the antibodies are present, then it means that the infection is either there now in the body or you may have been infected in the past.
  • Urea breath test for H.pylori: The H.pylori urea breath test is done to check if the bacteria are there in your stomach. However, this test isn't available all the time.
  • Stool antigen test: This test checks to see is the substances or bacteria that trigger the immune system to fight against the infection are there in the stool. This test is helpful if doctors want to support a diagnosis.
  • Stomach biopsy: This means that a small sample of the stomach lining and the small intestine is taken through endoscopy. Various tests may be done on the sample.

Reasons

  • This is done to check if there is an infection in the duodenum and stomach, and if the bacteria are causing gastritis and ulcers.
  • It is also conducted to check if the treatment has been successful.

Preparation

You don't have to do any special preparation for the stool antigen or blood antibody test. However, for the H.pylori breath testing, you are advised against eating or drinking anything for about six hours before the stomach biopsy or breath test for H.pylori is done.

Several medicines can alter the results of the test. It is therefore important to update your doctor about the medicines that you are taking. Your physician might tell you to stop taking the medicines for a week or so before getting the tests done. You may be asked not to take any antibiotics and H2 blockers for a few days or few hours before the test.

Procedure

  • Blood antigen test: This is a simple procedure where the health care provider will clean the area and insert a needle into your arm to draw out some blood to be tested.
  • Urea breath test: In the breath test, you will be asked to blow into a balloon. Alternatively, you may be asked to blow bubbles into a bottle filled with liquid. Before the test is done, the technician will take a sample of your breath or ask you to swallow a capsule that has radioactive or tagged material. He could also take breath samples at various times. The test will take around an hour-and-a-half to be completed.
  • Stool antigen test: The patient can collect a stool sample at home and then take it to the laboratory.
  • Stomach biopsy: Through endoscopy, the doctor collects tissue samples of the duodenum and the stomach.
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