Objective: The 13C-urea breath test (13C-UBT) is a safe, noninvasive, and accurate test for the detection of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection in adults. The aim of this study was to evaluate sensitivity and specificity of 13C-UBT in children using different types of test meal, doses of 13C-urea and breath sampling intervals. As yet, a validated, standardized 13C-UBT protocol for children has not been formulated.
Methods: 13C-UBT was performed in 115 children and repeated within 3 days, modifying the test meal or the dose of 13C-urea. H. pylori status was assessed by histology and rapid urease test. 13C-UBT was performed using 100 mg or 50 mg of 13C-urea and a fatty test meal (100 FA; 50 FA), 50 mg of 13C-urea, and a carbohydrate test meal (50 CA). Breath samples were collected every 10 min for 60 min.
Results: The 13C-UBT in children was highly sensitive and specific with all three protocols used. The best combination of sensitivity (97.92%) and specificity (97.96%) was obtained with Protocol 50 FA at 30 min with a cut-off of 3.5 per mil.
Conclusions: The 13C-UBT is an accurate test for the detection of H. pylori infection also in children. Administration of 50 mg of 13C-urea, a fatty test meal, and breath sampling at 30 min appears to be the most convenient protocol.