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Your doctor has requested a C-14 Urea breath test. This booklet will answer some of the questions you may have. 

What is a C-14 Urea breath test? 

A C-14 breath test is a simple and painless way of detecting the presence of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori in your stomach. Excessive amounts of these bacteria in your stomach can sometimes cause pain and other stomach problems. 

What is involved? 

When you arrive in the Nuclear Medicine department, a technologist will explain the entire procedure to you and then give you the opportunity to ask any questions. The technologist will then ask you to swallow a capsule containing a small amount of radioactive carbon-14 with a small cup of water. There are no known side effects from this capsule. After 3 minutes, you will be given another small cup of water to drink. Following this, there is a 10-minute wait to allow the capsule to fully dissolve in your stomach. You will then be asked to exhale into a balloon through a straw. This is the breath sample which will be used to detect if the bacteria are present. The technologist will use special equipment to determine the amount of radioactivity present in your breath. This will help the nuclear medicine specialist to determine if you have these bacteria in your stomach. 

The total duration of the test is about 15 min

Do I need to prepare for the test? 

  • Bring your Health card. 
  • Please notify our booking office at the time of scheduling your appointment if you have any concerns regarding a language barrier or any other special needs, so that appropriate arrangements can be made ahead to provide you with the best possible care. 
  • You must be fasting (no food or water) and refrain from smoking or vaping for 6 hours prior your appointment.  
  • You must be off any antibiotic treatment for 4 weeks prior to your appointment as it will provide a false negative result. 
  • If you take any stomach medications, follow the instructions below after consulting with your primary care physician. Please bring your list of medications with you on the day of your test. 
  • Medications to be stopped for 4 weeks prior to your appointment
    • Bismuth- Bismed 
    • Bismuth Subsalicylate 
    • Bismylate 
    • Pepto Bismol 
    • Personnel Sous-Salicylate Bismuth 
    • Pink Bismuth rose liquid 
  • Medications to be stopped for 2 weeks prior to your appointment 
    • Prevacid (Lansoprazole)  
    • Losec/Prilosec (Omeprazole)  
    • Pantoloc/Tecta (Pantoprazole)  
    • Nexium (Esomeprazole)  
    • Pariet (Ran-Rabeprazole)  
    • Dexilant (Dexlansoprazole)  
    • Pepcid AC (fanotidine)  
    • Zantac (Ranitidine)  
    • Axid (Nizatidine)  
    • Tagamet (Cinetidine)  
    • Carafate/Sulcrate (sucralfate)  
    • Milk of Magnesia 
  • Over the Counter medications to be stopped for 24 hours prior to your appointment 
    • Tums 
    • Gaviscon 
    • Rolaids 
    • Maalox 

Will it hurt? 

This test is completely painless, and you will not experience any side effects. 

Is the radiation dangerous? 

The amount of radioactivity used for this test is very small, no more than what the average person receives each day from natural background radiation. There will be no adverse reaction to the medication. The results of your test will give your doctor useful information about your condition and will help them plan your treatment. The benefits of having the test far outweigh any potential risk from the small radiation dose.  

Do I need to do anything after the scan? 

No special precautions are needed after the scan. If you stopped any medications in preparation for this test, you can resume your medication unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. 

Is there anything I should tell the staff before the test? 

Please tell us if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.  

How will I get the results of my test? 

A specially trained doctor will examine the results of your test. This is normally done soon after the end of the test. A report is then sent to the doctor who asked us to do the test. Your doctor will normally receive the report within one week. You will also have access to the report on MyChart as soon as it is released. 

If you have questions about the scan results or report, please contact your doctor directly. They are best able to interpret the report for you. 

Will this test cost me money? 

No. This test is paid for by the healthcare system. The test costs several hundred dollars, so please notify the department at 613-761-4831 if you cannot make your appointment. 

What should I do if I cannot make my appointment? 

If you cannot make you appointment, it is important that you notify the department at 613-761-4831 as soon as possible. Failure to make your appointment results in wasting of expensive materials that are ordered especially for your appointment and also reduces availability to other patients. Missed appointments may also result in delays of your treatments. 

Directions and Parking 

Civic Campus  1053 Carling Avenue – 1st Floor Tel.: 613-761-4831, option 8 Hours: Mon. – Fri., 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Directions: From within the Civic Campus, take the “C” elevators to the 1st Floor and follow the signs to Nuclear Medicine. Patients may also ask for directions at the patient information desk. 
Park in either parking lot off Carling Avenue (P7) or in the multistory parking garage (P1).  

Parking instructions 

  • All parking lots are automated  
  • Take the parking ticket with you inside.  
  • When you have completed your appointment, you can pay by cash or credit card at one of our pay stations, or you can pay by credit card with express exit at the parking lot exit gates (the grace period after payment to leave facility is 20 minutes). 
  • Payment methods: 
    • Pay stations: Cash or credit card (Visa, MasterCard or American Express). 
  • Maximum parking fee is $13.00 

Visit The Ottawa Hospital’s website for additional directions and parking instructions and maps. 

Last updated on: May 17th, 2022