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Flushable reagent stool blood test

Definition

Flushable reagent stool blood test is an at-home test to detect hidden blood in the stool.

Alternative Names

Stool occult blood test - flushable home test; Fecal occult blood test - flushable home test

How the Test is Performed

This test is performed at home with disposable pads. The pads are available at pharmacies without a prescription. Brand names include EZ-Detect and ColoCARE.

There is no direct handling of stool with this test. You simply note any changes on a card and then mail the results card to your health care provider.

Urinate if you need to, then flush the toilet before you have a bowel movement. After the bowel movement, place the disposable pad in the toilet. Watch for a change of color on the test area of the pad. Results usually appear within 2 minutes. Note the results on the card provided, then flush the pad away. Repeat for the next two bowel movements.

The different tests have different methods to check for water quality. Check the package for instructions.

How to Prepare for the Test

Some drugs may interfere with this test.

Check with your health care provider regarding medication changes that may be necessary. Never discontinue or decrease any medication without consulting your health care provider.

Check package instructions to see if you need to stop eating certain foods before doing the test.

How the Test Will Feel

This test involves only normal bowel functions, and there is no discomfort.

Why the Test is Performed

This test is mainly performed for colorectal cancer screening. It may also be recommended in the evaluation of low levels of red blood cells (anemia).

Normal Results

A negative result is normal.

Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results of the flushable test may indicate the following problems (which are the same as with the guaiac smear test):

Additional causes of a positive test, which do not indicate a problem in the gastrointestinal tract, include:

  • Coughing up and then swallowing blood
  • Nose bleed

Abnormal test results require follow-up with your doctor.

Risks

There can be false-positive (the test indicates a problem when there actually is none) or false-negative (the test indicates there is NOT a problem, but there is) results. This is similar to the traditional stool smear tests, which also can have false-positive or false-negative results.

References

Bresalier RS. Colorectal cancer. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 123.


Review Date: 2/16/2011
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 David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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