13C-urea breath test
The 13C-urea breath test determines the presence of the Helicobacter pylori infection.
Today we know that the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (HP) causes chronic inflammation of the stomach lining (chronic gastritis), which contributes to the development of ulcers in the stomach and duodenum, as well as increases the risk of carcinogenicity, or the development of gastric cancer. Successful eradication of the bacteria may promote complete recovery in patients with chronic gastric or duodenal ulcers.
Basic information about the examination
Frequently asked questions
50% of people are infected with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, but it does not cause problems to everyone. If a specialist gastroenterologist by means of gastroscopy discovers abnormalities which may relate to Helicobacter pylori infection, an antibiotic treatment is prescribed. After the antibiotic treatment, the success of the bacteria eradication has to be assessed. This can be done with another gastroscopy. If abnormalities were not so severe as to require a second gastroscopy, the presence of HP bacteria can also be determined with the breath test.
The breath test is accurate, reliable, simple and harmless. It is also suitable for children and pregnant women as well. On an empty stomach, the patient drinks a glass of orange juice with a harmless test substance added to it. The bacteria break down the substance into CO2, which is eventually exhaled. The patient is asked to exhale into a plastic bag before the test and 30 minutes after the test, while a special device measures the amount of tagged CO2 in the exhaled air. The greater the difference between both samples, the more it is likely that the bacterium is still present in the stomach.
An important advantage of the breath test is that a control gastroscopy is no longer needed to assess the success of antibiotic treatment. Breath test is more reliable than blood test, because it indicates the actual presence of the bacteria. The positive antigen blood test only proves that the patient was once infected with this bacterium, but the infection may be already gone.
- The patient must undergo the test on an empty stomach.
- At least 6 weeks must have passed since antibacterial therapy or any antibiotic treatment.
- 2 weeks before the examination it is not recommended to take medications that suppress gastric acid secretion.
Anyone can be referred to this test by personal physician.