Helicobacter pylori

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The bacteria, H. pylori is the predominant causative agent of gastric and duodenal ulcers. There are a number of existing methods for detecting H. pylori:

  • Gastric mucosa biopsy: the bacteria may have a patchy distribution on the gastric mucosa, making it a challenge to biopsy, thus increasing the risk of a false negative result.
  • Culture: it is a difficult organism to culture.
  • Histology: this is highly observer dependant.
  • Serum antibodies: this is not useful for an ongoing infection, and the levels of antibodies in the blood fall slowly after eradication, yielding false positive results.
  • Urea Breath test: this is a highly sensitive and specific test, but the equipment needed is expensive and not widely available.

The H. pylori stool test has a sensitivity of 98% and a specificity of 94%, which is very comparable to the Urea Breath test. It is a cost-effective test for diagnosing H. pylori infection, and for monitoring response to therapy.

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