LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA. A team of researchers from the U.S.C. School of Medicine and the Oregon Health Sciences University reports on their evaluation of a new, in-office test for the presence of Helicobacter pylori. Helicobacter pylori bacteria are found in the stomach of billions of people around the world and have been implicated in stomach ulcers, stomach cancer, MALT lymphoma, and dyspepsia (indigestion). The presence of the bacteria can only be finally confirmed through a biopsy of the stomach lining (endoscopy), but many tests are available for use in initial screening; these tests involve antibody tests (requiring a blood sample), urea breath tests, and stool tests for H. pylori antigen. Most of the screening tests require samples to be sent to a laboratory for evaluation and are therefore expensive and time-consuming.
The research team now reports that a new test requiring only a
drop of blood and a test strip is quite accurate in gauging the
presence of H. pylori. They evaluated the new test (Stat
Simple test, Saliva Diagnostic Systems Inc., Vancouver, WA) in 201
patients and compared the results to those obtained by the rapid
urease test, examination of biopsy specimens, and laboratory
analysis of blood using the ELISA test. They found that the new
test detected 82 out of 90 confirmed cases of H. pylori
infection correctly (90 per cent sensitivity); the test also
correctly predicted that 87 of the 110 patients confirmed as being
free of H. pylori did not have the infection (79 per cent
specificity). The researchers conclude that the new fingerstick
test is easy to use, fast, inexpensive, reasonably accurate, and
acceptable to the patient.