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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.

Alternative Names

Culture - gastric tissue; Biopsy - gastric tissue

How the test is performed

The gastric tissue biopsy sample is removed during an upper endoscopy. You will usually be given medicines to make you drowsy or less anxious before the test starts. 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 placed in a special dish and checked periodically to see if bacteria or other organisms have grown. This is called a culture.

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.

The laboratory culture is painless, since it does not involve the patient.

Why the test is performed

A gastric tissue biopsy and culture may be done to look for:

Normal Values

A gastric tissue culture may be considered normal if it does not show certain bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori or giardia.

Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What abnormal results mean

Stomach acids normally prevent too much bacteria from growing. A gastric tissue culture may be considered abnormal if it shows certain bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori, which plays a role in ulcer disease.

See also:

What the risks are

There are no risks associated with a culture. For information on risks related to the biopsy procedure, see upper endoscopy.


Chey WD, Wong BC. American College of Gastroenterology guideline on the management of Helicobacter pylori infection. Am J Gastroenterol. Aug 2007;102(8):1808-25.

Malagelada JR, Kuipers EJ, Blaser MJ. Acid peptic disease: clinical manifestations, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 142.

Culture of gastric tissue biopsy
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Review Date: 11/1/2009
Reviewed 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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