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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 17 (2003), Issue 12, Pages 701-706
Original Article

Use of LARA-urea Breath Test in diagnosis of Helicobacter pylori Infection in Children and Adolescents: A Preliminary Study

Andrew S Day,1,4 Sander Veldhuyzen van Zanten,2 Anthony R Otley,2 Linda Best,2 AnneMarie Griffiths,1 and Philip M Sherman3

1Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Research Institute, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
2Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
3Departments of Paediatrics and Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
4School of Women’s and Children’s Health, University of New South Wales, Randwick, Sydney, Australia

Received 5 June 2003; Revised 29 September 2003

Copyright © 2003 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: An accurate diagnosis of Helicobacter pylori infection in children currently relies upon histological assessment or culture of gastric biopsies obtained at endoscopy. Noninvasive testing would permit simpler assessment of children with dyspeptic symptoms. The primary aim of the present study was to prospectively evaluate a novel urea breath testing method in children undergoing diagnostic assessment of dyspeptic symptoms and secondarily to consider the roles of other noninvasive tests in these children.

METHODS: Laser associated ratio analysis (LARA)-13C urea breath testing was performed on children presenting with upper gastrointestinal symptoms for diagnostic endoscopy. Serum and stool were collected for performance of serology and stool antigen testing, respectively. Histology and culture of endoscopic biopsies of the gastric antrum were used to establish H pylori infection status.

RESULTS: Eight (36%) of 22 children were H pylori-positive by histology or culture of gastric biopsies. Urea breath testing showed a sensitivity of 75%, but specificity of 100%. The deletion of a test meal from the urea breath test protocol in eight patients did not alter the utility of the test. Serology provided sensitivity of 87.5%, but a specificity of only 75%. Stool antigen testing in eight available samples provided sensitivity of 50% and specificity of 100%.

CONCLUSIONS: The LARA-urea breath testing method provided less sensitivity in this group of children than suggested from previous studies. However, urea breath testing in children is easy to complete and provides rapid noninvasive results. Breath testing protocols require standardization; for instance, the addition of a test meal may not be necessary in older children. Although noninvasive tests for the presence of H pylori in children may provide accurate results and can be considered for use in the initial assessment of dyspeptic children, further work is required to establish the most accurate testing methods.