Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria are a common cause of peptic ulcers (sores in the lining of the stomach, small intestine, or esophagus). In this test, a stool (feces) sample is used to determine if H. pylori antigens are present in your child's gastrointestinal (GI) system. Antigens are substances that trigger the immune system to fight infection.
A doctor may request an H. pylori antigen stool test if your child has symptoms that could indicate the presence of a peptic ulcer, such as indigestion, abdominal pain, a full or bloated feeling, nausea, frequent belching, or vomiting. A test also might be ordered after your child completes a course of antibiotics for H. pylori to determine whether it eradicated the infection.
Unlike most other lab tests, a stool sample is often collected by parents at home, not by health care professionals at a hospital or clinic. For 2 weeks before the test, your child may be asked to avoid certain medications such as antibiotics, antacids, bismuth, and peptic ulcer medicines such as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and H2 blockers.
The doctor or hospital laboratory usually will provide written instructions on how to collect a stool sample. If instructions aren't provided, here are tips for collecting a stool sample from your child:
Alternatively, a doctor or nurse may collect a small stool sample by inserting a swab into your child's rectum.
When the sample arrives at the laboratory, a small amount of stool is placed in tiny vials. Specific chemicals and a color developer are added. At the end of the test, the presence of a blue color indicates the presence of H. pylori antigens.
In general, the result of the H. pylori stool test is reported in 1-4 days.
No risks are associated with collecting stool samples.
Collecting a stool sample is painless. Tell your child that collecting the stool won't hurt, but it has to be done carefully. A child who's old enough might be able to collect the sample alone to avoid embarrassment. Tell your child how to do this properly. If the sample is collected by swabbing, your child may feel slight pressure in his or her rectum during the procedure.
If you have questions about the H. pylori stool test, speak with your doctor.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: September 2014
|American Medical Association (AMA) The AMA has made a commitment to medicine by making doctors more accessible to their patients. Contact the AMA at: American Medical Association|
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|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The CDC (the national public health institute of the United States) promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.|
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|Peptic Ulcers Many people think that spicy foods cause ulcers, but the truth is that bacteria are the main culprit. Learn more about peptic ulcers.|
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|Ulcers Doctors once thought that stress, spicy foods, and alcohol caused most stomach ulcers. But ulcers are actually caused by a particular bacterial infection, by certain medications, or from smoking. Read all about ulcers.|
|Stool Test: Bacteria Culture A stool culture helps doctors determine if there's a bacterial infection in the intestines.|
|Stool Test: Giardia Antigen This test may be done if a child has watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, large amounts of intestinal gas, appetite loss, and nausea or vomiting.|
|Stool Test: H. Pylori Antigen A doctor may request an H. pylori antigen stool test if your child has symptoms that indicate a peptic ulcer, such as indigestion, abdominal pain, a full or bloated feeling, nausea, frequent belching, or vomiting.|
|Stool Tests Your child's doctor may order a stool collection test to check for blood, bacteria, ova, or parasites. Find out how this test is performed and when you can expect the results.|
|X-Ray Exam: Upper Gastrointestinal Tract (Upper GI) An upper GI X-ray can help find the cause of swallowing difficulties, unexplained vomiting, abdominal discomfort, severe indigestion, ulcers, reflux, hiatal hernia, or blockages.|
|Helicobacter pylori H. pylori bacteria can cause digestive illnesses, including gastritis and peptic ulcer disease.|
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