Info diagnostic methods

Many different diagnostic methods can be used to detect Helicobacter pylori. These methods can be divided into invasive or non-invasive tests.

Currently used invasive tests, based on the analysis of biopsies obtained during endoscopy, include:

  • Biopsy Urease Testing
  • Histology
  • Bacterial Culture
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction

Non-invasive tests are:

  • Serology
  • Stool Antigen Tests
  • UBT (Urea Breath Test)

Each test method has its own advantages and disadvantages. Traditionally the easiest and least expensive test to perform has been serology. The accuracy of serological tests are questionable, with reported specificities as low as 75 %. Furthermore, serological tests cannot be used to verify eradication, as they only detect antibodies to Hp and not the active infection.

The presence of Helicobacter pylori in the stool of infected patients has led to the development of fecal assays. Over the last years these test have been improved and offer accurate diagnosis of Helicobacter pylori. Less data is available on how well suited this test is as a post eradication follow-up test. One obvious disadvantage is handling of the stool.

At present the most accurate and wide-spread, non-invasive method is the Urea Breath Test. It is considered as the golden standard by many experts. Like the biopsy urease test, the Urea Breath Test depends on the bacteria’s production of the enzyme urease. Breath testing for Helicobacter pylori measures active infection. It is a cost-effective method to diagnose Helicobacter pylori.