Occult Blood in Stool Test Preparation, Procedure, Risks, Results Interpretation
Tests & Procedures

Occult Blood in Stool Test – Preparation, Procedure, Risks, Results Interpretation

Fecal occult blood usually refers to traces of blood in Feces. The blood, however, is not visibly apparent for instance as in the case if melena or hematochezia. To test for this hidden like blood in the stool, an occult blood test is carried out.

What is Occult Blood in Stool Test?

An occult blood stool test also known as a fecal occult blood test looks for blood in feces. This kind of blood cannot be seen with naked eyes. Generally, it can just be a mere problem in your digestive systems when sometimes it may be a sign of a complication such as cancer in the colon or rectum.

In case the test results show that there is blood in your stool, it’s crucial to talk to your doctor to find out the source of bleeding and as well diagnose and find the effective treatment to the condition.

Why is A Stool Test for Occult Blood?

An occult test can be carried out for various reasons including diagnosing a condition in the digestive system or screening for a colorectal type of cancer. Additionally, your doctor can recommend an occult blood test to test unexpected symptoms of anemia.

What Causes Blood to Appear in Poop?

Presence of blood in the stool can be caused by

  • Polyps
  • Diverticulosis – A conditions caused by the outpouching of the colon wall
  • Ulcers
  • Colitis
  • Hemorrhoids – This condition is caused by swollen blood vessels near the lower rectum, which rapture causing bleeding
  • Cancer – Colon or rectum related cancers
  • Growth in the colon
  • Intestinal infections may also cause inflammation
  • Anal Fissures – This is cracks or split in the Anal opening lining
  • Meckel’s Diverticulum – This condition is more common in young adults and children
  • A situation with the blood vessels in the large intestines

[ReadBlack Specks in Stool Causes]

Occult Blood in Stool Test Preparation

The occult blood test can be primarily affected by how you personally prepare for the test. Therefore, it’s crucial to follow up with the doctor’s instructions very carefully. In most cases, a special diet within 48 – 72 hours before the test is recommended since some foods can alter the test results. The following foods should be avoided

  • Raw fruits
  • Raw vegetables
  • Red meat such as beef and pork
  • More than 250mg of vitamins C enriched beverages or foods per day should be avoided
  • Nonsteroidal Anti Inflammatory Medications such as naproxen or ibuprofen, or aspirin should be avoided for seven days before the test. In case you have such a prescription, talk to a doctor before stopping with the medication. An alternative can be provided.

Make sure that you tell your doctor about all the medication, vitamins, supplements, and herbs that you are taking. Some of them can affect your blood test giving you a false test result. Occult blood stool test instructions should be carefully followed for correct test results.

Occult Blood in Stool Test Procedure

Your healthcare provider will give you a kit. Use the package to collect and prepare stool samples for the occult blood test. The doctor may ask you to provide about 3-stool samples. Seal the sample after collection and write your name and date on it. Then return it to your Healthcare Provider.

Are There any Risks to The Test?

Since the occult blood test is a non-invasive test, there are no known risks for undergoing a fecal occult blood test.

Occult Blood in Stool Test Results and Interpretation

Generally, the occult blood test results can vary depending on a number of factors including your gender, age, the method used to collect the test, and health history among others things. However, your doctor will explain and help you understand what your results mean.

Occult Blood Positive in Stool Test – This means that you have blood in your stool. It may mean that you are bleeding in your digestive system, but it doesn’t always mean that you have cancer. Other conditions may be ulcers, benign tumours, hemorrhoids, and polyps.

Additionally, in case your results are positive, your doctor may request an extra test to confirm the test results before diagnosing the condition. Also, a colonoscopy test can be carried out to locate the exact location if the bleeding sources. Consult with your doctor if you have additional questions regarding the test being positive.

Occult Blood Negative in Stool Test – This means that there is no blood in the stool. Therefore, there is nothing to worry about. However, continue to follow up with your doctor’s recommendations and regularly screen.

[ReadStool Test Importance]

Occult Blood in Stool Test Duration

Some occult blood test may require you collect stool samples for a period of more than one day. Depending on your health care provider, it should take approximately at most seven days to receive the results.

Doctors recommend that you take an occult blood test regularly. For instance, cancer-related condition if diagnosed early can be treated which is much more easier than treating serious cancer that has spread widely. Furthermore, occult blood in stool test is quite a simple test, and there is no risk to worry about.

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad