In the C14-urea breath test, the breath sample is read in a scintillation counter. In the C13-urea breath test the breath sample is read in a mass spectrometer (MS) rather than a liquid scintillation counter (LSC).
Carbon-14-urea Breath Test
In the Australian TGA & US-FDA approved C14-urea breath test you fast for about 6 hours (from midnight). The test is usually performed in the morning. You swallow a capsule which contains one microCurie of C14-urea. You provide the breath sample usually by blowing up a small balloon or blowing bubbles in a small bottle of breath-collection liquid. Samples of breath are then taken 10 minutes after the capsule is swallowed. The C-14-urea contains a tiny amount of radioactive material which passes out of your body in a day or so in the urine and breath. The amount of radioactive exposure from the test is less than you will normally receive in one day from nature. (i.e. natural background radiation to which every individual on earth is exposed to everyday. The test is quick and simple to perform, and much less expensive than endoscopy. The Australian & USA version is called the”PYtest” and is described in detail at the Tri-Med breath-test internet site (http://www.trimed.com.au). In Australia the test costs $AUD80 but it is fully reimbursed by Medicare for all patients with a history of ulcer, previous H. pylori infection or for those patients unable to undergo endoscopy. However, in July 2006 the Australian Medicare Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) has recommended that public funding should be supported for the use of carbon labelled urea breath testing (both C-14 & C-13) as the first line procedure for the diagnosis of H. pylori infection. In the USA the PYtest may cost $USD50 – $USD100.