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Stool Analysis

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

  • Taking medicines such as antibiotics, antidiarrheal medicines, barium, bismuth, iron, ascorbic acid, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and magnesium.
  • Contaminating a stool sample with urine, blood from a menstrual period or a bleeding hemorrhoid, or chemicals found in toilet paper and paper towels.
  • Exposing the stool sample to air or room temperature or failing to send the sample to a laboratory within 1 hour of collection.

What To Think About

  • Stool may be checked for hidden (occult) blood. To learn more, see the topic Stool Tests for Colorectal Cancer.
  • A stool culture is done to find the cause of an infection, such as bacteria, a virus, a fungus, or a parasite. To learn more, see the topic Stool Culture.
  • A bowel transit time test is done to help find the cause of abnormal movement of food through the digestive tract. To learn more, see the topic Bowel Transit Time.
  • The D-xylose absorption test is done to help diagnose problems that prevent the small intestine from absorbing nutrients in food. This test may be done when symptoms of malabsorption syndrome (such as chronic diarrhea, weight loss, and weakness) are present. To learn more, see the topic D-Xylose Absorption Test.
  • A stool analysis to measure trypsin or elastase is not as reliable as the sweat test to detect cystic fibrosis. To learn more, see the topic Sweat Test.

Citations

  1. Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology
Current as of March 7, 2012
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

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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