Reasons, Procedure and Preparation For C Urea Breath Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

C Urea Breath Testing

Heliobacter pylori also known as H. pylori belongs to the category of Heliobacter, bacteria. This bacterium is primarily responsible for gastritis and peptic ulcers and in some cases it has been linked to gastric cancer as well. H. pylori colonizes the stomach and studies have shown that around 50 percent of the global population has been affected by it, with almost 80 percent of those affected being from developing countries. Detecting this bacterium is essential for proper treatment and elimination, as H. pylori tends to become resistant to antibiotics. Urea breath tests have proved to be an effective, non-invasive and economical method of detecting this bacterium.

The urea breath tests have been refined to include the following: inclusion of test meals to hinder gastric emptying, reduced sampling periods, and introduction of a stable 13C isotope, which is an alternative to the radioactive 14C urea. The improved test can thus be referred to as a 13C-urea breath test, carbon 13 urea breath test, or a 13C-UBT, while the old test can be referred to as a c 14 urea breath test.

Reasons Why It is Conducted

The c 13 urea breath test and c 14 urea breath test are conducted to detect the presence of the H. pylori bacterium and determine treatment. These tests are also used as they are safe, effective, non-invasive, economical, and accurate. Doctors will recommend a urea breath test to monitor treatment and check for the elimination of the H. pylori bacterium. The 13c urea breath test has become popular because it can be safely conducted on women and children and can be repeated a number of times, without causing harm to the patient.


For the C13-urea breath test, the patient has to fast for about 6 hours before the test. Before ingesting any C13, the patient is asked to give a baseline breath sample. The patient blows into a tube or a bag and the sample is collected. The patient is then asked to eat a small but high calorie meal, after which the patient is made to drink a carbon 13 urea solution mixed in water. Breath samples are then taken at 20, 40, or 60 minute intervals. If H. pylori have colonized the stomach, then the urea will be broken down and the carbon 13 will appear present in the patient's breath.


Consult your doctor regarding any antibiotics or other medications that you are taking, also inform him of any allergies.