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Stool Analysis

How It Is Done continued...

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.

If the stool is collected in your doctor's office or the hospital, you will pass the stool in a plastic container that is inserted under the toilet seat or in a bedpan. A health professional will package the sample for laboratory analysis.

You will need to collect stool for 3 days in a row if the sample is being tested for quantitative fats. You will begin collecting stool on the morning of the first day. The samples are placed in a large container and then refrigerated.

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 The swab is inserted into the rectum, rotated gently, and then withdrawn.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.

How It Feels

There is no pain while collecting a stool sample. If you are constipated, straining to pass stool may be painful.

If your health professional uses a rectal swab to collect the sample, you may feel some pressure or discomfort as the swab is inserted into your rectum.

Risks

Any stool sample may contain germs that can spread disease. It is important to carefully wash your hands and use careful handling techniques to avoid spreading infection.

Results

A stool analysis is a series of tests done on a stool (feces) sample to help diagnose certain conditions affecting the digestive tract camera.gif.

The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.

Stool analysis test results usually take at least 1 to 3 days.

Stool analysis
Normal:

The stool appears brown, soft, and well-formed in consistency.

The stool does not contain blood, mucus, pus, undigested meat fibers, harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites.

The stool is shaped like a tube.

The pH of the stool is 7.0–7.5.1

The stool contains less than 0.25 grams per deciliter (g/dL)[less than 13.9 millimoles per liter (mmol/L)] of sugars called reducing factors.1

The stool contains 2–7 grams of fat per 24 hours (g/24h).1

Abnormal:

The stool is black, red, white, yellow, or green.

The stool is liquid or very hard.

There is too much stool.

The stool contains blood, mucus, pus, undigested meat fibers, harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites.

The stool contains low levels of enzymes, such as trypsin or elastase.

The pH of the stool is less than 7.0 or greater than 7.5.

The stool contains 0.25 g/dL (13.9 mmol/L) or more of sugars called reducing factors.

The stool contains more than 7 g/24h of fat (if your fat intake is about 100 g a day).

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 07, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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