Gastric tissue biopsy and culture
Gastric tissue biopsy is the removal of stomach tissue for examination. A culture is a laboratory test that examines the tissue sample for bacteria and other organisms that can cause disease.
This article focuses on the laboratory test. For information on how the test sample is taken, see: upper endoscopy (or EGD).
Culture - gastric tissue; Biopsy - gastric tissue
How the test is performed
The gastric tissue biopsy sample is removed during an upper endoscopy. For information on how this procedure is performed, see upper endoscopy (or EGD).
The health care provider sends the tissue sample to a laboratory where it is examined for signs of cancer, certain infections, or other problems.
How to prepare for the test
Don't eat or drink anything for 6 - 12 hours before the biopsy procedure. For more information see upper endoscopy.
How the test will feel
For information on how the biopsy procedure will feel, see: Upper endoscopy.
Why the test is performed
This test may be done to diagnose a stomach ulcer or the cause of other stomach symptoms. These symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in the upper part of the belly
- Black stools
- Vomiting blood or coffee-ground like material
A gastric tissue biopsy and culture can help detect:
- Infections, most commonly Helicobacter pylori, which can cause stomach ulcers
Abnormal results may be due to:
- Gastric cancer
- Gastritis, when the lining of the stomach becomes inflamed or swollen
- H. pylori infection, which causes most ulcers in the stomach
The examples above are common measurements for results of these tests. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
What abnormal results mean
A gastric tissue biopsy is normal if it does not show cancer, other damage to the lining of the stomach, or signs of Helicobacter pylori infection.
A gastric tissue culture may be considered normal if it does not show certain bacteria. Stomach acids normally prevent too much bacteria from growing
What the risks are
There are no risks associated with a culture. For information on risks related to the biopsy procedure, see upper endoscopy.
Peura DA, Crowe SE. Helicobacter pylori. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 50.
Last reviewed 10/22/2011 by Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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