Diagnosing a stomach ulcer

Your GP may suspect you have an ulcer, based on your symptoms. They will want to know if you're taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and may test you for an Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection.

You may be referredto hospital for a procedure to look inside your stomach (a Gastroscopy ).

Testing for H. pylori infection

If your GP thinks your symptoms may be caused by an H. pylori infection, they may recommend one of the following tests:

  • urea breath test you will be given a special drinkcontaining a chemical that isbroken downby H. pylori; your breath is then analysed to see whether or not you have an H. pylori infection
  • stool antigen test asmall stool sample is tested for the bacteria
  • blood test a sample of your blood is tested for antibodies to the H. pylori bacteria (antibodies are proteins produced naturally in your blood and help to fight infection); this has now largely been replaced by the stool antigen test

If you test positive for H. pylori, you will need treatment to clear the infection, which can heal the ulcer and prevent it from returning. A small tissue sample may also be taken from your stomach or duodenum, so it can be tested for the H. pylori bacteria.

A gastroscopy is usually carried out as an outpatient procedure, which means you won't have to spend the night in hospital.


Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 5 Jan 2017