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Various stool tests

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What are stool tests?

Stool tests or analysis of the feces can yield important information about various disorders of the gastrointestinal tract.

These tests can be broadly categorized into:

Fecal occult blood test

Microbiology tests

  • a) Microscope examination
  • b) Stool culture

Chemical tests

  • a) Stool acidity test
  • b) Fecal fat test     
  • c) Fecal elastase levels    

The stool is also examined closely for its consistency, whether its loose or well formed, the color, its odor as well as whether mucus is present.

Why are they inducted?

Stool tests provide crucial information regarding various digestive disorders. They can help to assess the condition of the different digestive organs, i.e., the stomach, liver, pancreas and intestines, as well as to locate the possible cause. The test that is ordered is generally based on the type of symptoms reported by the patient.

Fecal occult blood test:

This test is conducted to check for internal bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract.

Microbiology tests:

a) Microscope examination: an examination by a microscope reveals the presence of eggs or larvae of parasites like hookworm, roundworms, pinworms, ascaris and so on.

b) Stool culture: This test is conducted to identify the bacteria, virus or fungus responsible for infection.

Chemical tests:

a) Stool acidity test: this is carried out to check for lactose intolerance in children as well as infection.

b) Fecal fat test: this tests for the presence of fats in feces.                                                                                                     

c) Fecal elastase levels: testing for elastase helps to find out disorders of the pancreas.

Who should go for it?

  • Persons with long-drawn-out diarrhea, or diarrhea with blood, fever, vomiting, pain and cramps in the abdomen.
  • Persons with unexplained weight loss, weakness, abdomen pain are often advised a stool analysis.
  • People who exhibit signs of malabsorption, lactose intolerance and so on.
  • Persons who have unexplained anemia, fatigue, rashes or itching may be checked for parasites.


The sample for this test is collected at home in a clean container provided by the testing laboratory. It is essential that the sample does not get contaminated, therefore make sure that the stool does not touch the toilet bowl and is collected directly in the catching device. Besides this, urine should not get mixed in the sample so it is better to first urinate. Also, make sure that the stool sample is not taken during a menstrual period or during bleeding from hemorrhoids.

Always wear gloves when collecting the sample and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

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Interpretation of results

The results can be affected by certain medicines like antacids, antibiotics, laxatives, antibiotics etc so it is better to inform your doctor about any medicines that you are having. Results may also not be clear if you have recently had a barium swallow test.

Fecal occult blood test:

The presence of blood can indicate cancer or bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract.

Microbiology tests:

a) Microscope examination: the presence of ova, larvae and cysts indicates a parasitic infestation.

b) Stool culture: the results of this identify the bacteria and its sensitivity to various drugs.

Chemical tests:

a) Stool acidity test: if ph is below 7, it indicates malabsorption of carbohydrates or lactose intolerance. If it is higher than 7.5 then it is indicative of infection.

b) Fecal fat test: normal stool should not contain fat and its presence points towards malabsorption of fats due to pancreatitis, celiac disease or cystic fibrosis.

c) Fecal elastase levels: elastase levels should be greater than 200 mcg/g stool. Lower values point towards pancreatic insufficiency.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: January 10, 2015


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