Urea breath test (UBT)

This test examines your breath for the presence of Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which can cause gastritis (inflammation of the mucous membrane of the stomach) or ulcers in the stomach and small intestine.

The test is a painless and non-invasive procedure that takes about 20 minutes.

The test requires you to swallow a capsule* containing a small amount of 14C urea (a mildly radioactive substance) with a small cup of water. After 3 minutes, you will be given another small cup of water to drink.

After a further 7 minutes, you will be required to blow into a balloon.

The test results will be forwarded to your doctor.

The amount of radioactivity you will be exposed to is approximately one-tenth of the dose received from a chest x-ray, and less than half the normal background radiation we are all exposed to in a normal day.

You must make an appointment for this test. For your nearest collection centre, please refer to your request form, visit our  Collection Centre Locations, or telephone Patient Services Support on 1300 732 030.

Please read through the guidelines below to ensure that you are able to take the test.


Many medications, particularly some acid-suppressing drugs and antibiotics (listed below), can interfere with this test.

If you have recently been taking any of these medications, the test may not be able to detect a current Helicobacter pylori infection. However, please discuss your treatment with your doctor before stopping any medications.

General guidelines

  • You must not eat or drink anything including water for at least 4–6 hours before the test.
  • Do not have a second 14C urea breath test within 2 days of your first test.
  • You must not smoke for at least 2 hours prior to the test

Medication guidelines

  • Stop taking all antibiotics, including triple therapy for Helicobacter pylori (Nexium Hp7) at least 4 weeks before the test.
  • Stop taking bismuth medication 4 weeks before the test.
  • Stop taking cytoprotectives (Sucralfate, Ulcyte, Carafate), at least 2 weeks before the test.
  • Stop taking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs: Acimax, Esomeprazole, Lansoprazole, Losec, Meprazol, Nexium, Omepra, Omeprazole, Pantoprazole, Pariet, Somac, Rabeprazole, Zoton, and others) at least 1 week before the test.
  • Stop taking Iberogast 24 hours before the test.
  • You may continue to take H2 receptor antagonists (Ausfam, Cimetidine, Famohexal, Famotidine, Magicul, Nizac, Nizatidine, Rani 2, Ranitidine, Tacidine, Tagament, Tazac, Zantac, and others) up to the fasting period.
  • You may continue to take antacids (Dexal, Eno, Gastrogel, Gaviscon, Mucaine, Mylanta, Rennie, Salvital, and others) up to the fasting period.

Please inform your doctor if you will need to temporarily stop taking any of the above medications.

How much will it cost?

Bulk billing is not available for this test. Please discuss the cost of this test when calling to make your appointment.

*Gluten-free capsule containing C14 Urea, corn starch, and fluorescent indicator

Item number 34181 - Issue date December 2020