This test measures the levels of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) antibodies in your blood.
H. pylori are bacteria that can invade your gut. H. pylori infection is one of the major causes of peptic ulcer disease. This happens when inflammation caused by the bacteria affects the mucus coating of your stomach or duodenum, the first section of your small intestine. This leads to sores called peptic ulcers on this lining.
This test can help your healthcare provider find out whether your peptic ulcers are caused by H. pylori. If antibodies are present, it may mean that they are there to fight H. pylori bacteria. Although H. pylori bacteria are a leading cause of peptic ulcers, these ulcers may also develop from taking too many nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
You may need this test if your healthcare provider suspects that you have peptic ulcer disease. Signs and symptoms include:
Burning sensation in your abdomen
Tenderness in your abdomen
Gnawing pain in your abdomen
Your healthcare provider may also order other tests to look for the actual presence of the H. pylori bacteria. These tests might include a stool sample test or an endoscopy, in which a thin tube with a camera on the end is passed down your throat and into your upper gastrointestinal tract. Using special instruments, your healthcare provider can then remove a small piece of tissue to look for H. pylori.
Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your healthcare provider.
Normal results are negative, meaning that no H. pylori antibodies were found and that you don't have an infection with these bacteria.
Positive results mean that H. pylori antibodies were found. You don't necessarily have an infection with H. pylori, however. H. pylori antibodies may linger in your body long after the bacteria have been wiped out.
The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your arm.
Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection, bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore.
Past infection with H. pylori can affect your results, giving you a false-positive.
You don't need to prepare for this test. But be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.