The 13C-urea breath test (13C-UBT) is a noninvasive method for detecting Helicobacter pylori. This study was performed to determine the cutoff value and evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of 13C-UBT in Taiwan. 13C-Urea (100 mg of 99% 13C-labeled urea) was dissolved in 50 ml sterile water for the test. The test meal for delaying gastric emptying was 100 ml fresh milk. Patients fasted for at least 6 h. A baseline breath sample was collected 5 min after they had the test meal. Two other samples were collected at 15 and 30 min after the patients ingested the 13C-urea. The test was evaluated in 352 patients after routine upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, and the urease test, culture, and histopathology were taken as the gold standards for detecting H. pylori. According to the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves, we chose values of 2.8 and 4.2 excess δ 13CO2 per mil as the cut-off values for 15 and 30 min, respectively, post 13C-urea. The sensitivity and specificity of 13C-UBT were 99% and 93% at 15 min, and 98% and 93% at 30 min post 13C-urea, respectively. The 13C-UBT breath test is an efficient non-invasive method of high sensitivity and high specificity for detecting H. pylori infection. We suggest that the use of fresh milk as the test meal and the detection of excess δ 13CO2 15 min after the ingestion of 13C-urea are suitable for the clinical use of 13C-UBT. This test is simple and rapid.
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