How Gastritis is Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of gastritis may be possible by signs and symptoms of gastritis. If definite diagnosis is not possible the signs and symptoms may strongly suggest the disease. If your doctor suspects you to be suffering from gastritis your doctor may ask some tests to confirm or pinpoint the diagnosis. The tests which can help in diagnosis of gastritis are test for H. pylori, endoscopy and X-ray.

Test for H. pylori:

For testing presence of H. pylori in stomach most commonly urea breath test is done. This test can detect the presence of H. pylori. In urea breath test a capsule/liquid containing urea with radioactive carbon is taken by the patient and 30-60 minutes later breath sample is collected and tested for presence of radioactive carbon in the breath sample. Presence of radioactive carbon in breath indicates presence of H. pylori, because these organisms can break down urea into ammonia and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is than transported to lungs to be exhaled and the exhaled air contains carbon dioxide with radioactive carbon, which is a breakdown product of urea containing radioactive carbon taken by the patient before testing. In absence of H. pylori, the urea will not be broken down into carbon dioxide and ammonia and carbon dioxide (containing radioactive carbon) will not be detected.

Endoscopy for diagnosis of gastritis:

In endoscopy your doctor passes a hollow tube equipped with lens (or a tube/wire containing a camera) to directly visualize stomach, esophagus and small intestine. By directly visualizing the stomach, your doctor looks for signs of inflammation and takes samples for biopsy, if required. The biopsy sample can also be utilized for detecting H. pylori.


A special type of X-ray (barium-swallow) may be helpful in diagnosis of gastritis. If there is any ulcer or any abnormality in stomach of small intestine, barium-swallow X-ray can reveal it more clearly. For barium-swallow X-ray the patient is given clear liquid containing barium before X-ray and X-ray is taken.

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