[14C]urea breath test for diagnosis of Helicobacter pylori

J. E. Ormand, N. J. Talley, H. A. Carpenter, R. G. Shorter, C. R. Conley, W. R. Wilson, E. P. Dimagno, A. R. Zinsmeister, S. F. Phillips

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34 Scopus citations


H. pylori is a potent urease producer, a characteristic that has been exploited in the development of the[14C]- and [13C]urea breath tests. The prevalence of H. pylori infection also is known to increase with advancing age; however, the individual patient's age has not routinely been considered when interpreting urea breath test results. The aim of this study was to validate a short, age-adjusted [14C] urea breath test for use in diagnosing H. pylori infections. Forty-one subjects (28 volunteers, 13 patients) underwent esophagogastroduodenoscopy with biopsies. Subjects were defined as being H. pylori positive if histology or culture was positive. In addition, all subjects completed a 120-min [14C]urea breath test. A logistic regression analysis adjusting for age was used to estimate the probability of H. pylori positivity as a function of the14C values generated. Sixteen subjects were H. pylori-positive, and 25 were H. pylori negative. The14C values generated between 15 and 80 min were found to be equally predictive in identifying H. pylori-positive subjects. Advancing age was associated with a higher probability of H. pylori positivity. By taking advantage of the statistical probabilities, older patients could be accurately diagnosed with H. pylori at lower14C values. We found that [14C]urea breath test to be both a sensitive and specific test that can be abbreviated to a 30-min examination (total test time). Moreover, our mathematical model indicates that a patient's age should be considered in order to optimize interpretation of the [14C]urea breath test, although further observations are needed to confirm this model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)879-884
Number of pages6
JournalDigestive diseases and sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1990


  • Helicobacter pylori
  • [C]urea breath test
  • age

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Gastroenterology


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