Some doctors prefer to test for H. pylori infection in everyone who has common ulcer
Your doctor may advise a screening for H. pylori before long-term NSAID use is begun. Screening and
treatment for H. pylori infection has been shown to
reduce the risk of ulcers for people starting long-term NSAID use.2 Anyone taking NSAIDs should discuss with his or her doctor
the potential risks of long-term NSAID use.
Helicobacter pylori tests cannot diagnose peptic ulcer
disease or other conditions that may cause symptoms similar to an ulcer. These
tests can only determine whether H. pylori bacteria are
present. The most common tests used to detect an infection with H. pylori bacteria include:
Blood test for H. pylori
antibodies. A blood test for H. pyloriantibodies is a quick, easy, and inexpensive test to
detect them. This blood test may make it possible to avoid having an upper
endoscopy exam. But it cannot distinguish between a past or current infection
with H. pylori bacteria, so it is not useful for
determining whether an infection has been cured.
Urea breath test. A urea breath test for
H. pylori is very accurate. Unlike the blood test, it
will detect only those H. pylori bacteria that are
present at the time of the test. This makes it a good test for checking to see
whether an H. pylori infection has been cured. The test
is somewhat expensive.
Stool antigen test. This test checks for antigens
for H. pylori in the stool. It can be used to diagnose
H. pylori bacteria as a cause of peptic ulcer disease
and to see whether treatment has cured the infection.
Biopsy of the stomach lining. During an upper
endoscopy exam, a biopsy of the stomach lining will be collected to test for
H. pylori bacteria. A biopsy is the most accurate way to
test for H. pylori. It also allows the doctor to check
for other possible causes of symptoms (such as cancer). A biopsy is expensive
and requires an upper endoscopy exam, which is more invasive than other tests
used to detect H. pylori.
Some people who have received therapy with
medicines to treat an H. pylori infection need
follow-up testing to make sure that the infection is