Background: The reference diagnostic methods available for detection of Helicobacter pylori infection are either invasive (histology) or expensive and highly sophisticated (Urea Breath Test). A new enzyme immunoassay, which can be easily performed in any laboratory, has been developed to detect Helicobacter pylori in stool specimens (HpSA-Meridian Diagnostics, Cincinnati, USA). Aim of the study was to compare HpSA to Urea Breath Test.
Patients and methods: A total of 125 patients (52 never treated for Helicobacter pylori infection and 73 after Helicobacter pylori eradication therapy) referring to our Department, underwent both tests within two weeks.
Results: Contrasting results between the two tests were found in 30% of cases: in 19% of the untreated patients and in 37% of the treated patients (p<0.001). The main discrepancy consisted in positive HpSA associated with negative Urea Breath Test. Mean HpSA value in such conditions was 0.273 optical density, while in patients with both positive tests, it was 1.192 optical density. In untreated, but not in treated patients, raising the HpSA cut off value significantly decreased the percentage of conflicting results.
Conclusions: Some disagreement was detected between HpSA and Urea Breath Test results, especially in treated patients. Possible explanations for our findings are a low HpSA cut off value together with the identification of Helicobacter pylori coccoid forms by the immunoassay but not by the urease based Urea Breath Test. The higher percentage of discrepancy detected in treated patients might support this hypothesis.