Hydrogen - breath

Last updated: Thursday, 08, April, 2004

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Item Process
Specimen

Expired air taken into syringe. The specimen must be collected by trained staff.

Method

If done as part of a tolerance test the appropriate test material (eg, lactose) is given orally and specimens are collected for 3 hours.

Hydrogen is analysed by gas chromatography.

Reference Interval

Varies with test material.

Application

Investigation of malabsorption (especially lactose), small bowel bacterial overgrowth.

Interpretation

If malabsorption is present, breath hydrogen is increased following ingestion of the material.

If there is small bowel bacterial overgrowth, short small bowel, or hypermotility, hydrogen production commences earlier than normal.

Reference

Cash BD et al. Am J Gastroenterol 2002; 97(11): 2812-2819.