Stool Analysis: Everything you Need to Know

Stool analysis studies are non-invasive tests that provide valuable information about our state of health. They are essential in the prevention of colon cancer.

Blood tests and urine tests are among the most routine tests that doctors request to know our state of health. The stranger is a saliva test, but very useful in certain infections, such as covid-19. Very frequent is also the stool analysis. In the following lines, we tell you when it is necessary to do this type of study, what diseases it detects, and how you should prepare to collect the required sample.

When Stool Analysis Test is Necessary?

The shape, color, and consistency of our feces guide medical professionals about the presence of digestive and other pathologies. Such as neurological or endocrine problems. You have to go to the doctor if there are non-specific changes in the frequency. You defecate (persistent diarrhea or constipation) and if the stools are black, pasty, white, or have red Blood.

To determine what may be happening in our body, the doctor first relies on the Bristol scale. But it is not enough since no pathology is identified in this table, but it helps define if we are facing a normal transit, constipation, or diarrhea. To deepen and make a diagnosis, he will order a stool study.

Situations in Which Stool Analysis Should Done

Recent onset constipation, with weight loss and anemia in the blood test. A fecal occult blood study can guide us on whether there is colonic pathology.

Anemia due to iron deficiency without clarified origin. A fecal occult blood test may be requested if there is blood loss from the digestive tract.

When it does not improve in the short term, acute diarrhea is recurrent or becomes chronic. The analysis clarifies an infectious origin so that samples can be collected for a microbiological study of bacteria and parasites.

Patients were determined to have provocative entrail infection (Crohn’s sickness and ulcerative colitis). The study of feces is done to control the underlying inflammatory process by determining inflammatory parameters in the feces, such as calprotectin. It is also used in outbreaks of these diseases to rule out an infectious trigger; a microbiological study of bacteria and parasites is carried out.

In addition, according to the doctor specializing in the Digestive System of the Jerez de la Frontera University Hospital, the study of fecal occult blood is very important in the prevention of colon cancer, which is why it is carried out in screening programs of this disease in healthy people without any digestive symptoms.

Types of stool analysis and what diseases they detect

There are multiple types of stool studies, but what do they show? The digestive expert divides them into four large groups of tests and points out which diseases can be detected:

➡️ Microbiological tests, such as stool culture

These studies detect infectious diseases such as enteritis or infectious colitis. They determine the presence of bacteria, viruses, parasites, and toxins that produce them.

➡️ Blood in feces detection test (SOH)

As its name indicates, they are used to detect the presence of blood, which occurs in neoplastic pathologies such as colon cancer, preneoplastic (colon polyps), colitis, or enteritis that produce severe inflammation such as ischemic, inflammatory (Crohn, ulcerative colitis) or some infections. They are also used in the case of vascular lesions such as angiodysplasias.

➡️ Digestive function test

These analyzes determine different substances that our digestive glands secrete or the presence of different nutrients that have not been digested well. Fecal elastase, an enzyme secreted by the pancreas, can be studied: if it is low, it may be because this gland is not working properly, as happens in the case of chronic pancreatitis. These tests also determine the amount of fat in the stool: if it is high, it indicates a pancreatic problem.

How to collect a sample for Stool Analysis

“Many individuals are reluctant to control their stool to take the example, yet we should demand that these are painless conclusions that give us entirely important data about the condition of wellbeing,” recalls Antonio M. Moreno. Also, it is very simple.

But first, keep in mind that samples contaminated with urine or water are not valid. Nor should toilet paper be used to collect them. And, of course, it’s no use removing the stool from the toilet bowl.

How to take the sample for Stool Analysis at home?

To take the fecal sample, sterile plastic containers are delivered from the medical center that can be different depending on the type of analysis. It is generally similar to that of the urinalysis: wide mouth and with an airtight seal.

As detailed by the Andalusian health service, an amount of stool similar to the size of a walnut (between 1 or 2 grams), or 5-10 ml if they are liquid, should be collected. It is important that, if there is, it is taken in that area that has Blood, mucus, or pus. Care must be taken not to contaminate the outside of the bottle — you can wear gloves — or fill it too much.

After collecting the sample, the bottle will be carefully closed, and it will have to be labeled with the patient’s name and surname. If more than two hours pass from its collection to its processing, the container with the feces must be left in the refrigerator at 4 ºC and delivered within 24 hours.

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