Urea Breath Tests
Breath testing for Helicobacter pylori is a non-invasive diagnostic technology which measures active infection. It is a cost-effective method to diagnose Helicobacter pylori.
Urea breath tests take advantage of Helicobacter pylori’s production of urease, an enzyme that is postulated to protect the organism by alkalinization of the environment immediately adjacent to the organism. It is accomplished by metabolization of urea to ammonia and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide produced diffuses into the blood vessels and from there it is transported as bicarbonate into the lungs and expelled as CO2 with exhaled air.
On an empty stomach the patient swallows carbon labeled urea. In the presence of Helicobacter pylori, the labeled urea is metabolized into carbon dioxide and ammonia by the enzyme urease, produced by Helicobacter pylori. The carbon dioxide produced diffuses into the blood vessels and from there it is transported as bicarbonate into the lungs and expelled as CO2 with exhaled air to be captured during sampling. A positive answer offers conclusive evidence that the patient is infected with Helicobacter pylori. In the absence of Helicobacter pylori, the administered urea is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and subsequently voided.