How It Is Done
Stool samples can be collected at home,
in your doctor's office, at a medical clinic, or at the hospital. If you
collect the samples at home, you may be given a special container.
You may need to collect more than one sample. Follow the same procedure
for each sample.
Collect the sample as follows:
- Urinate before collecting the stool so that you
do not get any urine in the stool sample. Do not urinate while passing the
- Put on gloves before handling your stool. Stool can contain
germs that spread infection.
Wash your hands after you remove your gloves.
- Pass stool (but no
urine) into a dry container. You may be given a plastic basin that can be
placed under the toilet seat to catch the stool.
- Either solid or liquid stool can be
- If you have diarrhea, a large plastic bag taped to the
toilet seat may make the collection process easier; the bag is then placed in a
- If you are constipated, you may be given a small
- Do not collect the sample from the toilet
- Do not mix toilet paper, water, or soap with the sample.
- Place the lid on the container and label it with
your name, your doctor's name, and the date the stool was collected. If you are
collecting more than one sample, use one container for each sample, and collect
a sample only once a day unless your doctor gives you other directions.
Take the sealed container to your doctor's office or the
laboratory as soon as possible. You may need to deliver your sample to the lab
within a certain time. Tell your doctor if you think you may have trouble
getting the sample to the lab on time.
You may need to collect
several stool samples over 7 to 10 days if you have digestive symptoms after
traveling outside the country.
Samples from babies and young
children may be collected from diapers (if the stool is not contaminated with
urine) or from a small-diameter glass tube inserted into the baby's rectum
while the baby is held on an adult's lap.
Sometimes a stool sample
is collected using a rectal swab that contains a preservative. The swab is
inserted into the rectum, rotated gently, and then withdrawn. It is placed in a
clean, dry container and sent to the lab right away.