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    Stool guaiac test

    Guaiac smear test; Fecal occult blood test - guaiac smear; Stool occult blood test - guaiac smear

    The stool guaiac test looks for hidden (occult) blood in a stool sample. It can find bloodeven if you cannot see it yourself.

    It is the most common type of fecal occult blood test (FOBT).

    How the Test is Performed

    Usually, you collect asmall sample of stool at home.

    Sometimes, a doctor may collect a small amount of stool from you during a rectal examination.

    If the test is done at home:

    • You will need to collect a stool sample from three bowel movements, one right after the other.
    • You smear a small amount of the stool on a card for each bowel movement
    • You mail the card to a laboratory for testing.
    • A drop or two of testing solution is added to the sampleat the lab. A color change is a sign of blood in the stool.

    There are many ways to collect the samples:

    • You can catch the stool on plastic wrap that is loosely placed over the toilet bowl and held in place by the toilet seat. Then put the sample in a clean container.
    • Some test kits supply a special toilet tissue that you use to collect the sample, then put the sample in a clean container.

    Do not take stool samples from the toilet bowl water. This can cause errors.

    For infants and young children wearing diapers, you can line the diaper with plastic wrap. Place the plastic wrap so that it keeps the stool away from any urine. Mixing of urine and stool can spoil the sample.

    Always follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to collect the stool. This helps the test be more accurate.

    How to Prepare for the Test

    Some foods can affect test results. Do not eat the following foods for 3 days before the test:

    • Red meat
    • Cantaloupe
    • Uncooked broccoli
    • Turnip
    • Radish
    • Horseradish

    Some medicines mayinterfere with the test. These include vitamin C, aspirin, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen. Ask your doctor or nurse if you need to stop taking these before the test. Neverstop or change your medicinewithout first talking to your health care provider.

    How the Test Will Feel

    The at-hometest involves a normal bowel movement. There is no discomfort.

    You may have some discomfort if thestool is collected during a rectal exam.

    Why the Test is Performed

    This test detects blood in the digestive tract. It may be done if:

    • You are being screened or tested for colon cancer
    • You have abdominal pain, changes in bowel movements, or weight loss
    • You have anemia (low blood count)
    • You say you have blood in the stool or black, tarry stools

    Normal Results

    A negative test result means that there is no blood in the stool.

    What Abnormal Results Mean

    Abnormal results may be caused by anything that causes bleeding in the stomach or intestinal tract, including:

    • Colon cancer or other gastrointestinal (GI) tumors
    • Colon polyps
    • Esophageal varices and portal hypertensive gastropathy
    • Esophagitis
    • Gastritis
    • GI infections
    • Hemorrhoids
    • Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Peptic ulcer

    Other causes of positivetest may include:

    • Nosebleed
    • Coughing up blood and then swallowing it.

    Abnormal tests require follow-up with your doctor. In many cases, no explanation for the abnormal result is found.


    There can be false-positive and false-negative results.

    Errors are reduced when you follow instructions during collection and avoid certain foods and medicines.


    Tack J. Dyspepsia. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 13.

    Blanke CD, Faigel DO. Neoplasms of the small and large intestine. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 199.


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              Tests for Stool guaiac test

              Review Date: 11/5/2012

              Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

              The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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