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Indications and diagnostic tests for Helicobacter pylori infection

Section Editor
Mark Feldman, MD, MACP, AGAF, FACG
Deputy Editor
Shilpa Grover, MD, MPH, AGAF


Diagnostic testing for Helicobacter pylori can be divided into invasive and noninvasive techniques, based upon the need for endoscopy. The techniques may be direct (culture, microscopic demonstration of the organism) or indirect (using urease or an antibody response as a marker of disease). The choice of test depends upon issues such as cost, availability, clinical situation, population prevalence of infection, pretest probability of infection, and factors such as the use of proton pump inhibitors and antibiotics that may influence certain test results.

This topic review will present the indications and appropriate means of testing for H. pylori, and will also discuss the individual tests. Treatment regimens are discussed separately. (See "Treatment regimens for Helicobacter pylori".)


There are a number of clinical circumstances in which testing for H. pylori is considered. Recommendations for diagnostic testing for H. pylori were first proposed by the National Institutes of Health in 1994 [1]. More recent guidelines were published in 2006 by the European Helicobacter Study Group [2,3] and in 2007 by the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) [4].

ACG recommendations — The ACG guidelines include the following conclusions [4]:

Testing for H. pylori should be performed only if the clinician plans to offer treatment for positive results.


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Literature review current through: Feb 2017. | This topic last updated: Thu Mar 12 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2015.
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