What is Helicobacter pylori?

Helicobacter pylori (or H pylori) is a type of bacteria that is responsible for many cases of chronic gastritis and stomach ulcers.

Urea breath tests are a sensitive and specific test  and is an ideal test for determining the success of eradication therapy. It is also useful in those situations where endoscopy is not indicated.

What is a urea breath test?

Urea breath test (or UBT test) is a simple, sensitive and non-invasive way of testing patients to determine H. pylori status.

How is a urea breath test performed?

Certain medications that may affect the test need to be excluded, for up to 30 days before the test. A small dose containing Carbon-13 Urea (13C urea) is taken by mouth, and a breath sample is collected 30 minutes later. The test is not radioactive and can be performed on children, or pregnant women.

Get on top of your general health

Find and instantly book affordable GPs within Australia

Find GPs in Australia

Why would you need a urea breath test?

Nobel-Prize-winning research in Western Australia has recently (within the last 10-15 years) identified Helicobacter pylori as a major treatable cause of ulcers of the stomach and duodenum, and to a lesser extent gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining). Symptoms of these conditions include:

Upper abdominal pain

Upper abdominal pain, particularly pain where the timing is related to food or lack of food, and nausea or vomiting.

Heartburn

Heartburn or acid reflux is a similar symptom that is less consistently related to gastritis and H pylori as a cause.

Urea breath test results explained

A POSTIVE urea breath test for Helicobacter pylori means that the bacterium is present within the stomach, and may therefore be the cause of upper abdominal symptoms. H pylori eradication therapy may be prescribed by your doctor to kill the bacterium and therefore allow healing to occur.

A NEGATIVE urea breath test for Helicobacter pylori means that the bacterium probably is not present within the stomach, although it is possible for so-called false negatives to occur when certain medications are not witheld before the test.

Related specialists

Related procedures

  • Endoscopy of the Upper Gastrointstinal Tract

Related tests

Also known as

  • UBT test
  • 13C urea breath test
  • H pylori breath test
  • Urease breath test

Links

 

A: Use HealthEngine to find and book your next GP appointment. Click on the following locations to find a GP clinic in your state or territory.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, HealthEngine recommends consulting with a registered health practitioner.