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Ann Nucl Med. 2008 Aug;22(7):611-6. doi: 10.1007/s12149-008-0168-6. Epub 2008 Aug 29.

Could the simplified (14)C urea breath test be a new standard in noninvasive diagnosis of Helicobacter pylori infection?

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  • 1Department of Nuclear Medicine, Ankara Atatürk Training and Research Hospital, Ankara, Turkey.



The carbon-14 ((14)C) urea breath test (UBT) is a reliable and noninvasive technique for the diagnosis of Helicobacter pylori (HP) infection. The diagnostic performance of a new practical and low dose (14)C UBT system (Heliprobe, Stockholm, Sweden) was compared with those of other diagnostic tests, namely, rapid urease test (RUT), histopathology, and DNA detection using polymerase chain reaction (PCR).


Eighty-nine patients (mean age = 45 +/- 13, 30 men) with dyspeptic complaints who underwent an endoscopic procedure were studied. Biopsy specimens acquired during the procedure were subjected to RUT, histopathological examination using hematoxylin and eosin (HP-HE) and PCR. All patients underwent UBT using the Heliprobe system on a different day. The gold standard for HP positivity was defined as any two of the three tests being positive, excluding UBT, and the sensitivity and specificity of any single test alone were determined using this gold standard. Whenever only one test was positive, it was considered to be a false-positive one.


With the gold standard used in this study, 59 (66%) patients were diagnosed HP positive. The Heliprobe method detected HP infection with 96.6% sensitivity and 100% specificity and had the best diagnostic performance when compared with all the other methods. The sensitivity and specificity of the other methods for the detection of HP positivity were 89.8% and 100% for RUT, 93.2% and 63.3% for PCR, and 93.2% and 76.6% for HP-HE, respectively. Areas under the receiver-operating characteristic were 0.977 for UBT, 0.947 for RUT, 0.84 for HP-HE, and 0.775 for PCR.


Using a combination of invasive diagnostic tests as the gold standard, Heliprobe UBT was found to be highly sensitive and specific for the diagnosis of HP infection in patients with dyspeptic complaints.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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