Stool Analysis: About Your Child's Test

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What is it?

A stool analysis is a series of tests done on a sample of stool (feces). It can find problems with the digestive tract. These health problems can include infection, poor nutrient absorption, or cancer.

Why is the test done?

In children, stool analysis is done to find diseases of the digestive tract. It's also done to find out what may be causing symptoms like diarrhea, gas, nausea, vomiting, and belly pain with fever.

How do you prepare for the test?

Your child may need to avoid certain medicines for 1 to 2 weeks before the test. Your child may also need to avoid certain foods for a few days before the test. Talk with your doctor about which medicines and foods to avoid.

How is the test done?

Stool samples can be collected at home. Or they can be collected in your doctor's office, a health clinic, or the hospital. If you collect your child's samples at home, you will get kits to use. Each kit has applicator sticks, a collection container, and two sterile containers.

You may need to collect more than one sample over 1 to 3 days. Follow the same procedure each day.

  • Have your child urinate before you collect the stool so your child doesn't get any urine in the stool sample.
  • Put on gloves.
  • Have your child pass stool into the collection container. If your child still wears diapers, you can collect a sample from the diaper (if the stool is not contaminated with urine).
  • Use the applicator stick to take a sample of the stool, and place it in the sterile container.
  • Place the lid on the container. Label it with your child's name, the doctor's name, and the date the stool was collected.

How long does the test take?

The test will take a few minutes each time you take a sample.

What happens after the test?

  • If your child isn't already at home, your child will probably be able to go home right away.
  • Your child can go back to their usual activities right away.
  • Your child may have needed to avoid certain medicines and foods. The doctor will let you know if your child can restart their medicines and return to their normal diet after the test.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have your child's test results.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.