AIM: To determine the test characteristics and the optimal cut-off point for the 13C urea breath test (13C UBT) in a Canadian community laboratory setting.
METHODS: Of 2232 patients (mean age ± SD: 51±21 years, 56% female) who completed a 13C UBT, 1209 were tested to evaluate the primary diagnosis of
Helicobacter pyloriinfection and 1023 were tested for confirmation of eradication following treatment. Cluster analysis was performed on the 13C UBT data to determine the optimal cut-off point and the risk of false-positive and false-negative results. Additionally, 176 patients underwent endoscopic biopsy to allow validation of the sensitivity and specificity of the 13C UBT against histology and microbiology using the calculated cut-off point.
RESULTS: The calculated cut-off points were 3.09 δ‰ for the whole study population (n=2232), 3.09 δ‰ for the diagnosis group (n=1209) and 2.88 δ‰ for the post-treatment group (n=1023). When replacing the calculated cut-off points by a practical cut-off point of 3.0 δ‰, the risk of false-positive and false-negative results was lower than 2.3%. The 13C UBT showed 100% sensitivity and 98.5% specificity compared with histology and microbiology (n=176) for the diagnosis of active
CONCLUSIONS: The 13C UBT is an accurate, noninvasive test for the diagnosis of
H pyloriinfection and for confirmation of cure after eradication therapy. The present study confirms the validity of a cutoff point of 3.0 δ‰ for the 13C UBT when used in a large Canadian community population according to a standard protocol.