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Helicobacter Pylori Tests

How It Is Done

Blood antibody test

The health professional taking a sample of your blood will:

  • Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put a needle into the vein.
  • Clean the needle site with alcohol.
  • Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed.
  • Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
  • Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is collected.
  • Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
  • Put pressure on the site and then put on a bandage.

Urea breath test

The breath sample is collected when you blow into a balloon or blow bubbles into a bottle of liquid. The health professional taking a sample of your breath will:

  • Collect a sample of your breath before the test starts.
  • Give you a capsule or some water to swallow that contains tagged or radioactive material.
  • Collect samples of your breath at different times. The breath samples will be tested to see if they contain material formed when H. pylori comes into contact with the tagged or radioactive material.
  • The urea breath test usually takes about 30 minutes.

Stool antigen test

The stool sample for this test may be collected at home. If you are in the hospital, a health professional will help you collect the sample.

To collect the sample, you need to:

  • Pass stool into a dry container. Either solid or liquid stools can be collected. Be careful not to get urine or toilet tissue in with the stool sample.
  • Replace the container cap and label the container with your name, your doctor's name, and the date the sample was collected.
  • Wash your hands well after collecting the sample to avoid spreading bacteria.
  • Deliver the sealed container as soon as possible to your doctor's office or directly to the lab.

Your doctor may also use a cotton swab inserted into your rectum to collect a stool sample during an exam.

Stomach biopsy

  • Endoscopy is used to collect samples of tissue from the stomach and duodenum. The doctor may collect up to 10 tissue samples. To learn more, see the topic Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.
  • The tissue samples are tested in the lab to see if they contain H. pylori.
  • In rare cases, a biopsy sample may be placed in a container that promotes the growth of H. pylori bacteria. This is called an H. pylori culture. If bacteria grow in the culture, tests (called susceptibility or sensitivity testing) can determine which antibiotic to use to treat the infection.

How It Feels

Blood antibody test

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 04, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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