Screening for Helicobacter Pylori
|Why is this test done?||This test is performed to confirm the presence of the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacterium in your stomach or intestine. This bacterium appears to be involved in the mechanisms that lead to gastric irritation and ulcers. Screening for H. pylori may be part of the procedure for diagnosing an ulcer if you are experiencing symptoms. This test may also be conducted to confirm whether a treatment, aimed at eradicating this bacterium, has been successful.|
|How to prepare:||
Helicobacter pylori is a bacterium that can be found in the stomach and intestine of certain individuals. In fact, it is estimated that 20 to 40% of Canadians are carriers. This bacterium is often involved in various digestive problems as well as ulcers. There are several tests to detect whether one is a carrier of this bacterium:
- A blood antibody test can be used to detect the presence of antibodies to H. pylori. Positive serology indicates current or past infection with the bacterium. Unfortunately, the result can sometimes be false positive.
- A urea breath test can be carried out whereby the exhaled carbon dioxide (CO2) is measured. This test is quite simple. The patient drinks a urea solution that contains carbon. If H. pylori is present, it breaks down the urea, releasing the carbon dioxide which is exhaled and measured.
- A fecal test can also be conducted to determine the presence of substances associated with H. pylori. This test can also be used to see whether the treatment intended to eradicate this bacterium was successful.
- An endoscopy can be performed. This technique involves inserting a "camera" into the digestive system to take a close look at the stomach and intestine. This procedure makes it possible to collect a sample of tissue from the stomach lining for analysis.
What does an abnormal result mean?
If the result is positive
Once it is confirmed that the organism is indeed in the body, treatment aimed at eradicating the microbe may be required. Note that one may be a carrier of the bacteria and not have any stomach or intestinal problems. In this situation, eradication treatment may not be necessary.
However, when treatment is required, it must include antibiotics and drugs that reduce the level of acidity in the stomach. Generally speaking, a combination of three or four medications is required to eradicate H. pylori.
If the result is negative
It is usually a sign that the bacterium is not present - either the patient is not a carrier of the bacterium or is not longer a carrier as a result of successful treatment.
What you need to know before the test
Before going for a blood test, an exam or other procedure, it is always advisable to have a detailed list of all your medications - regardless of whether they are prescription medications, over the counter products or natural products. Unless otherwise indicated, you should take your medication as usual when you go for a blood test. If you are unsure, do not hesitate to speak to your pharmacist.
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The patient information leaflets are provided by Vigilance Santé Inc. This content is for information purposes only and does not in any manner whatsoever replace the opinion or advice of your health care professional. Always consult a health care professional before making a decision about your medication or treatment.