Simple breath test may replace endoscopy

April 25, 2002

A simple breath test for detecting H pylori infection is as effective and safe as endoscopy and is less uncomfortable and distressing for the patient, conclude researchers in this week's BMJ.

The study involved 708 patients with indigestion who had been referred to hospital for endoscopic investigation (examining the stomach using a tube-like viewing instrument).

A total of 356 patients received a non-invasive breath test for H pylori and 352 received endoscopy plus H pylori testing. Patients were also asked to score the degree of discomfort or distress caused by their test, and whether they would have the same test again.

After 12 months, non-invasive testing for H pylori was as effective and as safe as endoscopy. Furthermore, it was as reassuring to the patient as endoscopy, less uncomfortable and distressing, and substantially cheaper than endoscopy.

"For these reasons, non-invasive H pylori testing seems to be the preferred investigation for patients with uncomplicated dyspepsia," conclude the authors.
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BMJ

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