14C-urea breath test for the detection of Helicobacter pylori.
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The high urease activity of Helicobacter pylori can be used to detect this bacterium by noninvasive breath tests. We have developed a 14C-urea breath test which uses 5 microCi 14C with 50 mg nonradioactive urea. Breath samples are collected at baseline and every 30 min for 2 h. Our study compared the outcome of the breath test to the results of histology and culture of endoscopically obtained gastric biopsies in 84 patients. The breath test discriminated well between the 50 positive patients and the 34 patients negative for Helicobacter pylori: the calculated sensitivity was 100%, specificity 88%, positive predictive value 93%, and negative predictive value 100%. Treatment with bismuth subsalicylate and/or ampicillin resulted in lower counts of exhaled 14CO2 which correlated with histological improvement in gastritis. The 14C-urea breath test is a better "gold standard" for the detection of Helicobacter pylori than histology and/or culture.
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