The stool guaiac test looks for hidden (occult) blood in a stool sample. It can find blood even if you cannot see it yourself.
It is the most common type of fecal occult blood test (FOBT).
Usually, you collect a small 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 use a test kit. Follow the kit instructions exactly. This ensures accurate results. In brief:
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.
Some foods can affect test results. Do not eat the following foods for 3 days before the test:
Some medicines may interfere 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. Never stop or change your medicine without first talking to your health care provider.
The at-home test involves a normal bowel movement. There is no discomfort.
You may have some discomfort if the stool is collected during a rectal exam.
This test detects blood in the digestive tract. It may be done if:
A negative test result means that there is no blood in the stool.
Abnormal results may be due to problems that cause bleeding in the stomach or intestinal tract, including:
Other causes of positive test may include:
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.
Guaiac smear test; Fecal occult blood test - guaiac smear; Stool occult blood test - guaiac smear
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Updated by: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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