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Interpretive Handbook

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Test 9388 :
Helicobacter pylori Culture

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Helicobacter pylori is a spiral, gram-negative bacterium that is present in virtually all patients with idiopathic chronic duodenal ulceration.


Helicobacter pylori has been implicated as the etiological agent of antral gastritis and may predispose to gastric carcinoma.


While the organism is strongly associated with gastrointestinal disease, it is also estimated that 40% to 60% of asymptomatic Caucasians older than 60 years are Helicobacter pylori colonized.


Recommended noninvasive tests to detect active Helicobacter pylori infection include the urea breath test or fecal antigen detection.


On gastric biopsy specimens, diagnosis of Helicobacter pylori infection may be made by rapid urease, histopathology, or culture. Serology is also available; however, results cannot distinguish between active infection and past exposure.

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Recovery of Helicobacter pylori from gastric specimens to facilitate antimicrobial susceptibility testing used to guide antimicrobial therapy

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

A positive result provides definitive evidence of the presence of Helicobacter pylori.


Organisms may be detected in asymptomatic (colonized) individuals.


False-negative culture results do occur since the organism may die between biopsy collection and laboratory culture.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

Culture-negative results may occur due to the fastidious nature of the organism. Culture should be set up as soon as possible following specimen collection.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

No growth after 7 days

Clinical References Provides recommendations for further in-depth reading of a clinical nature

1. Blaser MJ: Helicobacter pylori and the pathogenesis of gastroduodenal inflammation. J Infect Dis 1990;161:626-633

2. Ormand JE, Talley NJ: Helicobacter pylori: controversies and an approach to management. Mayo Clin Proc 1990;65:414-426

3. Versalovic J, Fox JG: Helicobacter. In Manual of Clinical Microbiology. Seventh edition. Edited by PR Murray. Washington DC, 1999, pp 727-738

4. Theel ES: Helicobacter pylori Infection: Test Utilization Strategies for Diagnosis, Mayo Medical Laboratories Communique 2013;38(6):1-8