What is the stool test?

A stool analysis is a series of tests done on a stool (feces from the patient) sample to help diagnose certain conditions affecting the digestive tract. These conditions can include infection (such as that from parasites, viruses, or bacteria), poor nutrient absorption, or even cancer. A sample of the patient's feces is placed in a special medium where bacteria is then grown. The bacteria that grow in the culture are identified using a microscope and biochemical tests.

This procedure is performed in order to identify bacteria or other organisms in patients with symptoms of gastrointestinal infection, and most commonly diarrhea. The identification of the organism is necessary to determine the treatment of the patient’s infection or to find the cause of an outbreak or epidemic or certain types of diarrhea.

Most doctors order a stool test for patients that may have any of the following characteristics, bloody stools, high fever, diarrhea lasting longer than three days, AIDS, severe dehydration, and if the patient has had a history of recent travel abroad.

What is the purpose of the stool test?

The stool test detects – within the stool sample – the presence of bacteria responsible for gastrointestinal infections. The stool sample will undergo conducted macroscopic assessments (analyzing color, odor, and texture), as well as chemical and microbiological assessments, looking for any bacteria that may be causing gastrointestinal infections. By susceptibility it is then possible to evaluate the sensitivity and resistance of bacteria to antibiotics thanks to the stool sample.

Stool analysis are conducted to help identify diseases of the digestive tract, the liver and pancreas. Certain enzymes may be evaluated in the stool to help determine how well the patient’s pancreas is functioning. It is also used to identify colon cancer by checking for hidden or occult blood. It helps look for parasites, such as that of pinworm. It allows us to look for the cause of an infection, such as bacteria, a fungus, or a virus, and it allows us to check for poor absorption of nutrients by the digestive tract, known as malabsorption syndrome. Finally it also helps in finding the cause of symptoms affecting the digestive tract of the patient, including prolonged diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, an incorrect amount of gas, vomiting, nausea, bloating, cramping, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and fever.

Standard of preparation

There are no special rules of preparation for the exam. The stool sample must be developed and viewed on a clean container, and stool sample itself goes into a separate sterile container for the collection of the patients feces. It is advisable to inform your doctor of any medication you are currently taking as it may affect the results of the examination. Prior medical history may be required.

Which patients can undergo the stool test?

The stool test is prescribed by the doctor when he suspects a patients has any gastrointestinal infections, which can occur with diarrhea, vomiting, fever, stomach ache. However women cannot undergo this examination in the days of mensuration.

Is the stool test dangerous or painful?

The stool test is neither painful nor dangerous.