Which fecal lab studies are performed in the workup of diarrhea?

Updated: Jan 31, 2020
  • Author: Stefano Guandalini, MD; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD  more...
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Fecal laboratory studies include the following:

  • Examination for ova and parasites

  • Leukocyte count

  • pH level: A pH level of 5.5 or less or the presence of reducing substances indicates carbohydrate intolerance, which is usually secondary to viral illness

  • Examination of exudates for presence/absence of leukocytes

  • Cultures: Always culture for Salmonella, Shigella, and Campylobacter spp and Y enterocolitica in the presence of clinical signs of colitis or if fecal leukocytes are present; look for Clostridium difficile in those with diarrhea characterized by colitis and/or bloody stools; assess for Escherichia coli, particularly O157:H7, with bloody diarrhea and a history of eating ground beef; screen for Vibrio and Plesiomonas spp with a history of eating raw seafood or foreign travel

  • Enzyme immunoassay for rotavirus or adenovirus antigens

  • Latex agglutination assay for rotavirus

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