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Digestive Disorders

Breath test

10/10/2007

Question:

How can a breath test tell if you still have the h pylori bacteria?

Answer:

H. pylori is diagnosed through blood, breath, stool, and tissue tests. Blood tests are most common. They detect antibodies to H. pylori bacteria. Blood is taken at the doctor's office through a finger stick.

Urea breath tests are an effective diagnostic method for H. pylori. They are also used after treatment to see whether it worked. In the doctor's office, the patient drinks a urea solution that contains a special carbon atom. If H. pylori is present, it breaks down the urea, releasing the carbon. The blood carries the carbon to the lungs, where the patient exhales it. The breath test is 96 percent to 98 percent accurate.

Source: How is an H. pylori-related ulcer diagnosed? National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

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Response by:

Annette  Kyprianou, MD Annette Kyprianou, MD
Senior Clinical Instructor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University