What is carbon 13-urea breath test?
The carbon 13 breath test is a noninvasive test used to diagnose the presence of a bacterium called Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori). These bacteria live inside the stomach and can cause gastritis or inflammation, ulcers, atrophy or thinning of the stomach lining, lymphoma, and even stomach cancer. If it is determined that you have the H.pylori infection then a course of antibiotics would be given to you. At the end of the course of antibiotics, the carbon 13 breath test would be given to you again to make sure that you have been cured of these bacteria in your stomach.
How do I get tested for H. pylori infection?
You simply drink a small cup of a solution containing carbon13 and urea. After 15 minutes, you are asked to exhale into a small bag to collect the air sample for testing. If high levels of carbon 13 are detected in your breath, you have the infection H. pylori. Also, the same test would be given to you again if you did have H. pylori to see if you are cured of the infection.
How does this simple test work?
The concept behind the carbon 13 breath test is simple. The H.pylori bacteria has special enzymes to break down a protein called urea, a by-product of ammonia. The carbon 13 is chemically linked to urea in the solution. After drinking the solution, if the bacterium is present inside the stomach, the chemical link with urea is broken, releasing carbon 13 gases (this is a heavier form of carbon). This special form of carbon dioxide is absorbed across the lining of the stomach and into the blood, and then exhaled from the lungs.
What if my carbon 13 breath test is positive?
If the carbon13 breath test is positive, you have an active infection of H.pylori. This infection can be treated with a special combination of antibiotics and acid suppression medication. The success rate for cure is about 70-80% due to some resistance to antibiotics. Some patients may need a second course of antibiotics to be cured. The breath test is usually repeated after 4-6 weeks of finishing antibiotics to confirm cure.
Where can I have this test done?
This test can be done at Your G.I. Center. All the employees are well trained and work under the direction of Dr.Meah and Dr.Le when performing any labs. We do this test at our facility and interpret the results at the same location. Your G.I. Center will provide you with instructions for the lab and give you the results. Your G.I. Center is your one stop location for resolving all your gastrointestinal needs, go under the location tab to get the office directions.