Patient information for Helicobacter Test INFAI

Helicobacter Test INFAI® is a simple test your doctor can prescribe, to find out if you have an infection in your stomach which causes dyspepsia (indigestion) and ulcers. The test is not unpleasant or harmful in any way and will only take about 45 minutes to complete.

The test is one of a new kind available to your doctor and is called a breath test. All this means is that the samples your doctor will take are breath samples rather than blood or urine. You will be asked to drink only water for six hours before the test. The test may not work if you have taken antibiotics or some stomach medicines, so you will also be asked not to use these drugs for some time before the test.

 

Sampling

Sampling of the baseline t0

  The test starts with the collection of the baseline breath samples. The patient breathes gently through the straw into both of the white-capped breath sample containers.


Administration of ¹³C-urea

  After drinking 200 ml of orange juice to delay gastric emptying, the test solution (75 mg ¹³C-urea dissolved in 30 ml water) is swallowed briskly.

 

Sampling of the 30 minute value t30

  0-min. Wert Half an hour after taking the test solution, the second breath samples are collected in the blue capped breath containers. Barcoded labels are provided to ensure security and confidentiality. INFAI or other qualified laboratories will analyse the samples of breath and report the presence or absence of Helicobacter pylori.



Evaluating the breath test

 


In the presence of an active Helicobacter pylori infection, the ¹³C-enriched urea is metabolised releasing ¹³C-enriched carbon dioxide, which is detectable in the samples of the patient's breath.

 

Analysis of breath samples

   The analysis is carried out using a dedicated Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer. The European Community has prescribed minimum specifications for the analytical methods to guarantee precise measurements and an accurate test result.


More detailed information

Doctors used to believe that very few germs could survive in the stomach because the acid which assists in the digestion of your food would kill them. In 1983 it was shown that a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori can not only live in the stomach but that it is almost always present in the stomachs of patients with ulcers. If you are infected, you probably swallowed some of the bacteria, maybe years ago, and it may only now be causing the symptoms you are experiencing. It may also be the mechanism the bacterium uses to survive in the stomach, which is causing your dyspepsia and will eventually produce an ulcer.

This same survival mechanism also allows us to detect Helicobacter using the breath test. Helicobacter is one of only a few bacteria able to rapidly break down urea, a substance normally present in the stomach, in large quantities. In the INFAI breath test you drink a small amount of urea with a non-radioactive (and therefore harmless) isotopic label. The carbon dioxide which is produced when the urea is broken down by Helicobacter is also labelled and when it is passed out of the body in your breath it can be easily detected using a scientific instrument called a mass spectrometer. If there is very little labelled carbon dioxide in your breath then you almost certainly are not infected and the test result is negative.