Helicobacter Pylori Blood Test
This test measures Helicobacter pylori infection by blood test
- Helicobacter pylori IgA and
- Helicobacter pylori IgG
Many people carry the bacteria without being bothered by it. However, the bacteria can cause various symptoms (over time).
Helicobacter pylori infections are very common throughout the world. In developing countries about 90% of the population is infected with this bacterium. In the Netherlands it is estimated that approximately 15% of the people under the age of 40 are infected. In at least 30% of the people over 60 years of age the bacteria can be detected, probably caused by the drinking water of the past.
In most cases, infection only leads to an inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis). This does not cause symptoms in everyone. As a result, an infection is sometimes not detected or is detected by accident. Some people do develop symptoms when they have gastritis. The most common complaints are (vague) pain in the stomach area, nausea, bloating, lack of appetite and sometimes vomiting. Some of these people may develop an ulcer. It is not clear why some people who are infected develop symptoms (or even an ulcer) and others do not. Hereditary factors may possibly play a role in this.
A long-term (chronic) gastric mucosal infection can eventually turn into a so-called atrophic gastric mucosal infection. Atrophy means the 'shrinking and of tissue'. In atrophic gastritis, the mucous membrane on the inside of the stomach is much thinner than normal.
A special form of gastritis is Ménétrier's disease. This syndrome is also described as a giant pleated stomach. How such a giant pleated stomach arises is not exactly known. Possibly an infection with Helicobacter pylori plays a role, possibly in combination with a defect of the immune system.
Helicobacter pylori is also associated with stomach cancer. Long-term gastric mucosal infection can cause changes in the tissue. The stomach lining is then permanently altered, and this can eventually increase the risk of stomach cancer. For this reason, it is always important to treat an infection with Helicobacter pylori.
There are several ways to diagnose an infection with Helicobacter pylori.
This can be done through blood tests or stool tests and for antibodies to the bacteria. If antibodies are found, this means that you are infected with Helicobacter pylori.
If this infection is found in you, you can get a strength dose of antibiotics from your doctor to remove the bacteria. This will be followed by a check-up to see if the treatment has helped.
Since some patients show IgA-positive but IgG-negative results, it is better to test for both IgG serology and IgA when H. pylori infection is suspected.
The Netherlands Society of Physicians advises to do the face test and not the blood test:
The test properties of the fecal test and the urea breath test are comparable and much better than those of blood tests (ELISA). The poorer test characteristics and decreasing H. pylori prevalence in the Netherlands are the main reason for not recommending the serological test. If the prevalence of H. pylori decreases in a population group, the positive predictive value of the same test will decrease (and the negative predictive value will increase). In the urea breath test, the patient drinks urea that has been marked with non-radioactive C-13 or radioactive C-14. Prior to the fecal and urea breath test, the patient must not take a proton pump inhibitor for two weeks and an antibiotic for four weeks, as these can negatively influence the test result.