Fecal Culture

What is Fecal Culture?

A fecal culture is a pathological test conducted to find any organism in the stool sample of the patient that can cause gastrointestinal symptoms and disease. In this test fecal matter is collected for analysis to determine the presence or absence of a medical condition.

Why is the test done?

A fecal culture is a pathological test conducted on stool sample of the patient who are suspected to suffer from digestive tract infection and is used to separate any bacteria or other organism that might lead to symptoms that can be easily identified. The test is conducted by placing the stool sample of the patients on several types of nutrients media and is observed for growth. Any suspicious organisms that grow are identified using microscopic and biochemical tests. Doctors normally ask for stool culture test for the patients who show the symptoms of gastrointestinal infection commonly known as diarrhea. The main objective behind this test is to separate any bacteria or other organism that might lead to symptoms that can be easily identified. It is necessary for the health provider to identify the causative organism so that the treatment for the patient can be determined. If the patient is treated by antibiotic only on the basis of the symptoms seen it may make the condition worse.

How is the test done?

To perform the test we need a stool sample. There are many ways to collect the same. Plastic wraps are readily available in the market which can be used to collect the stool. The plastic wrap needs to be placed over the toilet pan fixed on the corners by the toilet seat. Once the sample is collected on the plastic wrap, the sample is required to be transferred in a clean container. Nowadays one can also purchase special test kits for stool sample collection. These test kits provide special tissues which can be used to collect the stool sample. These methods are used generally by the adults but for infants and young children the diapers are lined with plastic wraps. While placing the plastic wrap one need to be careful that it should be placed in such a way that the stool sample does not get mixed up with the urine thus for the evaluation one can get a better sample. In the laboratory a technical person places the sample of the person in a dish that is filled with a gel that enables the microorganism present in the sample to grow. The culture is watched as to how much is the growth, thus when the growth is seen the lab technician identifies the organisms and accordingly do more tests to determine the treatment.

How to prepare for the test?

Before going for the stool test the physician or the health care professionals have to take into consideration the complete medical history and perform a physical examination to extract the possible causes of the gastrointestinal problem. Some general information about the diet of the patients, any medication taken or any latest travel may present some signs to identify possible infected organism. A stool culture does not require much preparation. The patient just needs to collect the sample in the container given and return the same to the lab as soon as possible. It should not include any toilet paper or urine sample. Patients need not change their diet plan before collection the sample but yet they need to avoid some substances like castor oil, bismuth and laxative substances or substances rich in psyllium hydrophilic mucilliod. These substances mentioned may contaminate the sample.

There is no discomfort while the test is done. If the results are normal yet the normal value ranges may differ among the different laboratories but one need not to worry about the same. Also the patients can talk to the doctor about the meaning of the specific tests results. Abnormal result means that there is some infection in the intestinal but that can be treated well with the proper medication under the guidance of the doctor. Thus there are no risks as such in the fecal Culture Test.