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Helicobacter Pylori Breath Test

Last updated May 9, 2019

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

The Helicobacter Pylori Breath Test detects the presence of H. pylori in breath. It is used to diagnose infection or colonization by H. pylori.

What are the other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • H. Pylori Breath Test
  • H. Pylori CLO Breath Test
  • Helicobacter Pylori Urea Breath Test

What is Helicobacter Pylori Breath Test? (Background Information)

  • Helicobacter pylori, or H. pylori, is a bacteria responsible for causing stomach and intestinal ulcers. Upon ingestion, H. pylori migrate to the edge of the stomach wall. There, it is protected from the acidic environment by mucus. The bacterium releases several toxins that damages tissues and causes ulcers
  • H. pylorus is very commonly found in humans. It is present in up to 80% of individuals with ulcers, where it causes infection. It is also present in up to 50% of individuals, who do not exhibit any symptoms
  • The Helicobacter Pylori Breath Test detects the presence of H. pylori in breath. It is used to diagnose infection or colonization by H. pylori
  • To perform the H. Pylori Breath Test, an individual drinks a harmless radioactive solution. If H. pylori are present in the individual’s stomach, the bacteria will break down the solution and produce “labeled” carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is then exhaled by the individual and identified

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Helicobacter Pylori Breath Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing the Helicobacter Pylori Breath Test:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Gas
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Bloating
  • Discolored stool

How is the Specimen Collected for Helicobacter Pylori Breath Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Helicobacter Pylori Breath Test:

Sample required: Breath

Process: Ingestion of a harmless radioactive solution and exhalation into a collection apparatus.

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test.

What is the Significance of the Helicobacter Pylori Breath Test Result?

  • A positive Helicobacter Pylori Breath Test may indicate infection or colonization by H. pylori

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

  • Recent evidence indicates that Helicobacter pylori have the ability to transmit between household pets and humans

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider, the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

Please visit our Laboratory Procedures Center for more physician-approved health information:


References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: May 15, 2015
Last updated: May 9, 2019