The faecal occult blood test (FOBT) - what is it and how to prepare for it?

The faecal occult blood test (FOBT) - what is it and how to prepare for it?

Laboratory Testing

Blood in the stool is one of the most common signals that alerts us to the appearance of gastrointestinal disease. However, it is not always visible to the naked eye. In this case, examination of faecal occult feces will be extremely useful.

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Blood in the feces is so small that it does not change the colour or consistency of the stool, which can go unnoticed by us. Testing for faecal occult blood should be performed in every person over 50, because it is a screening test for colorectal cancer. FOBT (fecal occult blood test) is recommended at an earlier age in people with families affected by colon cancer. Other indications include: recurrent abdominal pain, alternating diarrhea and constipation, black stools, digestive problems, sudden weight loss, and anemia and its symptoms.

Which fecal occult blood test should I choose?

Examination of faecal occult blood may be performed both in the laboratory and at home. The following methods are currently available on the market:

stool guaiac test:

immunohistochemical tests:

porphyrin test:

tissue paper test:

How to prepare a sample correctly

1. The purchase of special containers in a laboratory or pharmacy

Before the test, you must obtain special test tubes containing the transport liquid with an applicator attached to the plug and prepare a clean, dry container that will serve as a toilet. This is to avoid stool dilution with water or contamination with urine from the toilet. The test tubes should be stored in a refrigerator and warmed to room temperature on the day of stool collection.

2. We recommend that you take 3 samples, for 3 days

It is recommended that you take stool samples for 3 days using 3 further tubes. Collected samples should be stored at a low temperature, preferably in a refrigerator. After collecting the last sample, the samples must be delivered to the collection point as soon as possible.

3. Stool examination in case of constipation

4. Sampling technique

It’s a good idea for the bladder to be completely empty before you prepare your fecal sample. Once the faeces is in the prepared container, use the applicator to take samples from 2-3 places, then mix them with the liquid in the test tube. Care must be taken when opening the tube and adding faeces, be careful not to drop it into the liquid too forcefully. After adding a stool sample, the tube should be carefully closed and shaken several times to mix the stool with the liquid.

5. Situations in which the test should not be performed

  1. Interna Szczeklika 2018 Handbook of Internal Diseases Authors: Piotr Gajewski, Andrzej Szczeklik Publisher: Medycyna Praktyczna
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