What is a Urea Breath Test?

Urea breath test is a simple test analyzing patient’s breath to detect bacteria Helicobacter Pylori. It is a non-invasive non-radioactive test which is used for follow-up of Helicobacter Pylori eradication after therapy.

What is Helicobacter Pylori?

Helicobacter Pylori is a spiral-shaped bacteria that lives in various parts of the stomach and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). It causes an inflammation of the stomach lining and is linked to the development of duodenal and stomach ulcers. It increases the risk of gastric cancer 2-6 times. However, 80% of individuals infected with this bacteria are asymptomatic.

How Common is Helicobacter Pylori Infection?

Helicobacter pylori infection is one of the most common infections in the world. Fifty percent of the world’s population is estimated to be infected with this bacteria. It is more prevalent with developing countries. The precise mode of transmission remains unknown, but the oral-oral and fecal-oral routes are the most probable. The infection is usually acquired in childhood before age of five and transmission between adult is consider rare.

What is the Principle of Urea Breath Test?

Helicobacter pylori produces an enzyme urease. When Helicobacter pylori is present in the stomach, the enzyme urease, produced by Helicobacter pylori, will convert 13C urea ingested in the test drink into ammonia and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is exhaled though the lungs and collected in the chamber bags.

How is Urea Breath Test Performed?

There is no special preparation required before the Urea Breath Test. The patient drinks the orange drink with 13C urea and blows the breath into the chamber bags at respective intervals. The patient could drink plain water during the test but not any carbonated drinks. Bags with collected gas are sent to the laboratory for analysis.

How Safe is Urea Breath Test?

13C-Urea Breath Test is widely recognized as the easy, safe and most reliable non-invasive diagnostic test. The test is using 13C which is a stable, non-radioactive isotope. About 1.1% of our body contains naturally occurring 13C. A normal daily food intake of an adult will contain about 3g of 13C.