13C-urea breath test for diagnosis of Helicobacter pylori infection in the elderly

Dig Dis Sci. Nov-Dec 2004;49(11-12):1840-4. doi: 10.1007/s10620-004-9581-4.


Helicobacter pylori infection has a high prevalence in the elderly, but its characteristics and treatment in the geriatric population are not well defined. The aims of the study were to characterize geriatric patients according to referral patterns and results of the 13C-urea breath test (13C-UBT) and to investigate the results of treatment combinations for H. pylori eradiction. The 13C-UBT was performed with 75 mg urea labeled with 13C. Physicians who ordered the test completed a questionnaire covering demographic data, indication for the test, chronic use of a proton pump inhibitor, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, and type of eradiction therapy. The study sample consisted of 2128 patients, aged 70-102 years, 958 (45%) men, referred for 13C-UBT. The test was positive on 697 (33%). History of peptic disease was the main indication for referral, following by validation of successful eradication, Israeli origin screening for gastric cancer, treatment with regimen containing metronidazole, history of peptic disease, and recurrence of symptoms were predictive factors for a positive 13C-UBT. Multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed a significant influence of eradication therapy on negative results. History of peptic disease and validation of successful eradication are the main indications for referral of the elderly for 13C-UBT. Our results are in accordance with the increase in metronidazole resistance of H. pylori stains and the cohort effect of H. pylori infection on the elderly Israeli-born population.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breath Tests / methods
  • Carbon Isotopes*
  • Female
  • Helicobacter Infections / diagnosis*
  • Helicobacter Infections / epidemiology
  • Helicobacter Infections / ethnology
  • Helicobacter pylori*
  • Humans
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Urea* / metabolism


  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Urea