Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori) is a type of bacteria that may cause infection. Experts are not certain how H. Pylori is transmitted, although they think it may be spread through contaminated food or water. People may pick up the bacterium from food that has not been washed well or cooked properly or from drinking water that has come from an unclean source. Studies suggest that having contact with the stool or vomit of an infected person can spread H. Pylori infection. H. Pylori has been found in the saliva of some infected people, which means infection can be spread through direct contact with saliva. The bacterium causes Peptic Ulcers by damaging the mucous coating that protects the stomach and duodenum. Damage to the mucous coating allows powerful stomach acid to get through to the sensitive lining beneath. Together, the stomach acid and H. Pylori irritate the lining of the stomach or duodenum and cause an Ulcer. Most people infected with H. Pylori never develop ulcers. Why the bacterium causes ulcers in some people and not in others is not known. Most likely, development of ulcers depend on characteristics of the infected person; the type of H. Pylori present; and factors researchers have yet to discover.
H. Pylori Tests
- Blood Antibody Test: A blood test checks to see whether your body has made antibodies to H. Pylori bacteria. If you have antibodies to H. Pylori in your blood, it means you either are currently infected or have been infected in the past.
- Urea Breath Test: A urea breath test checks to see if you have H. Pylori bacteria in your stomach. This test can show if you have an H. Pylori infection. It can also be used to see if treatment has worked to get rid of H. Pylori.
- Stool Antigen Test: A Stool Antigen test checks to see if substances that trigger the immune system to fight an H. Pylori infection (H. pyloriantigens) are present in your feces (stool). Stool Antigen testing may be done to help support a diagnosis of H. Pylori infection or to find out whether treatment for an H. Pylori infection has been successful.
- Stomach Biopsy: A small sample (biopsy) is taken from the lining of your stomach and small intestine during an endoscopy. Several different tests may be done on the biopsy sample. To learn more, see the topic Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.
Clostridium Difficile (C. Difficile)
Clostridium Difficile is shed in feces. Any surface, device, or material (e.g., commodes, bathing tubs, and electronic rectal thermometers) that becomes contaminated with feces may serve as a reservoir for the Clostridium Difficile spores. Clostridium Difficile spores are transferred to patients mainly via the hands of healthcare personnel who have touched a contaminated surface or item. Toxins produced by C. difficile bacteria can usually be detected in a sample of your stool. Several main types of lab tests exist, and they include:
C. Difficile Tests
- Enzyme Immunoassay: The Enzyme Immunoassay (EIA) test is faster than other tests but isn’t sensitive enough to detect many infections and has a higher rate of falsely normal tests.
- Polymerase Chain Reaction: This sensitive molecular test can rapidly detect the C. Difficile toxin B gene in a stool sample and is highly accurate.
- GDH/EIA: Some hospitals use a Glutamate Dehydrogenase (GDH) in conjuction with an EIA test. GDH is a very sensitive assay and can accurately rule out the presence of C. Difficile in stool samples.
- Cell Cytotoxicit Assay: A Cytotoxicity test looks for the effects of the C. Difficile toxin on human cells grown in a culture. This type of test is sensitive, but it is less widely available, more cumbersome to do and requires 24 to 48 hours for test results. Some hospitals use both the EIA test and Cell Cytotoxicity assay to ensure accurate results.
Board-Certified physicians Dr. Ranvir Singh, Dr. Stephen Rashbaum, Dr. Nitin J. Parikh, Dr. Long B. Nguyen, Dr. Ruth Montalvo, Dr. Jae Kim, and providers Tammi D’Elena, PA-C and Vanessa T. Bridgeman, MSN, APRN, FNP-BC; care for patients in the North Atlanta, GA; area including Johns Creek, GA, Cumming, GA, Lawrenceville, GA, Alpharetta, GA, and Dawsonville, GA. The in-house endoscopy suite at Digestive Care Physicians is a certified facility which has achieved the highest level of accreditation by the Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). If you suffer from gastrointestinal problems, abdominal pain, or need a colorectal cancer screening, contact us at (770) 227-2222 to schedule an appointment.