Helicobacter Pylori Tests
What To Think About
- Most urea breath tests now use tagged carbon rather than radioactive carbon. If you are pregnant, the radioactive urea breath test for H. pylori is not usually done, because the radiation could harm your child.
- The stool antigen test is the least expensive of the four tests for Helicobacter pylori, but it may not be as accurate as the other tests. The stomach biopsy is very accurate, but it is the most expensive and most risky of the four tests.
- A negative stool antigen test does not always mean that an H. pylori infection is not present (Reference false-negative Opens New Window).
- Although many people are infected with H. pylori bacteria, only a few of them will develop peptic ulcer disease. For this reason, other factors (such as a person's symptoms) should be considered when interpreting the results of an H. pylori test.
- Blood tests for H. pylori may be positive for several years after the infection, so the urea breath test, the stool antigen test, or a biopsy may be used to find out if treatment has been effective.
- If your symptoms don't go away, an endoscopy may be needed. For more information, see the medical test Reference Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.
- Having an infection with H. pylori increases your chances of having cancer of the stomach. But the risk is very low.
- For some people who have taken medicine to treat a Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
infection, a follow-up test may be needed to make sure the infection is cured.
The American College of Gastroenterology recommends a follow-up test to check
for H. pylori infection whenever:Reference 1
- A peptic ulcer is caused by H. pylori infection.
- Stomach (gastric) mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma is caused by H. pylori infection.
- Upset stomach (dyspepsia) symptoms are present even after H. pylori infection was tested for and treated.
- Resection of early stomach (gastric) cancer has been done.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference January 4, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology