Breath test diagnosis of Helicobacter pylori in peptic ulcer disease: a noninvasive primary care option

J Am Board Fam Pract. Nov-Dec 1997;10(6):385-9.


Background: Helicobacter pylori is implicated as the causative agent for most duodenal and gastric ulcers. Invasive (endoscopy and biopsy) and noninvasive (serology, breath test) methods are currently available for definitive diagnosis of infectious peptic ulcer disease.

Methods: Twenty-six patients with chronic gastritis symptoms underwent upper endoscopy, biopsy, rapid urease test, and [14C]urea breath test for the detection of H pylori.

Results: Twenty of 26 patients (77 percent) had biopsy-proved H pylori infection. All 20 (100 percent) with definite H pylori proved by invasive diagnosis had strongly positive results on urea breath test. Six patients with absence of H pylori on biopsy had negative urea breath test results. The urea breath test displayed 100 percent sensitivity, specificity, and predictive value compared with endoscopy and biopsy.

Conclusions: [14C]Urea breath testing is comparable to endoscopy and biopsy in the diagnosis of H pylori infection and could become useful in primary care settings for noninvasive evaluation of peptic ulcer disease.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breath Tests*
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Gastritis / diagnosis
  • Gastritis / microbiology*
  • Helicobacter Infections / diagnosis*
  • Helicobacter pylori / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Urea


  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Urea