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Overview:

A stool culture is a laboratory test performed to identify the presence of bacteria or viruses that cause infection. This test helps to diagnose an infection of the gastrointestinal tract. The test is often used to determine the cause of prolonged diarrhoea or other diseases of the digestive tract. It aids in developing a treatment plan in such cases.

When it's done:

The test is done when a person shows signs and symptoms of an abdominal infection like:

  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea that lasts for more than few days and may contain mucus or blood
  • Fever
  • To identify the bacteria, fungi or viruses causing the infection
  • To detect whether the treatment is effective or not
  • A test may also be performed to identify carriers. Carriers are people who have had an infection previously but are currently having no illness but can still infect other people.

When to Avoid:

There is no specific condition when this should be avoided. Inform your doctor if you have had any antibiotics recently, travelled out of the country or have undergone any test with contrast medium such as barium swallow or barium enema recently.

How to prepare:

No special test preparation is needed. A fresh sample of stool is collected in a sterile container. Make sure to prevent it from any contamination with urine or water. The sample is then transferred to a vial containing preservatives and sent to the laboratory within an hour after collecting. A stool sample is collected with a swab of the rectum in infants.

 

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