A re-testing range is recommended for 13C- and 14C-urea breath tests for Helicobacter pylori infection in China

Xiangyu Wang, Shuzhen Zhang, Eng Guan Chua, Yongsheng He, Xiaofeng Li, Aijun Liu, Haiting Chen, Michael J Wise, Barry J Marshall, Dayong Sun, Xuehong Li, Chin Yen Tay

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7 Citations (Web of Science)


BACKGROUND: The urea breath test (UBT) is widely used for diagnosing Helicobacter pylori infection. In the Shenzhen Kuichong People's Hospital, some UBT findings were contradictory to the histology outcomes, therefore this study aimed to assess and compare the diagnostic performance of both 13C- and 14C-UBT assays.

METHODS: We recruited 484 H. pylori-treatment naïve patients, among which 217 and 267 were tested by the 13C-UBT or 14C-UBT, respectively. The cutoff value for H. pylori positivity based on manufacturer's instruction was 4% delta over baseline (DOB) for the 13C-UBT, and 100 disintegrations per minute (DPM) for the 14C-UBT. Gastric biopsies of the antrum and corpus were obtained during endoscopy for histopathology.

RESULTS: In patients who were tested using the 13C-UBT kit, histopathology was positive in 136 out of 164 UBT-positive patients (82.9% concordance), and negative in 46 out of 53 UBT-negative cases (86.8% concordance). For the 14C-UBT-tested patients, histopathology was positive for H. pylori in 186 out of 220 UBT-positive patients (84.5% concordance), and negative in 41 out of 47 UBT-negative cases (87.2% concordance). While the 13C-UBT and 14C-UBT each had a high sensitivity level of 95.1% and 96.9%, respectively, their specificity was low, at 62.2% and 54.7%, respectively. By using new optimal cutoff values and including an indeterminate range (3-10.3% DOB for 13C-UBT and 87-237 DPM for 14C-UBT), the specificity values can be improved to 76.7% and 76.9% for the 13C- and 14C-UBT, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: The establishment of an indeterminate range is recommended to allow for repeated testing to confirm H. pylori infection, and thereby avoiding unnecessary antibiotic treatment.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Chinese Clinical Trial Registry, ChiCTR2000041570. Registered 29 December 2020- Retrospectively registered, http://www.chictr.org.cn/edit.aspx?pid=66416&htm=4.

Original languageEnglish
Article number38
JournalGut Pathogens
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


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