Fecal Occult Blood Testing

Sometimes bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract can be too slow to cause either rectal bleeding or melena. In these patients the blood in the poop is not visible to the naked eyes and can be found only by testing the stool for blood (fecal occult blood testing) in the laboratory. Occult bleeding has many of the same causes as rectal bleeding and may result in the same symptoms as rectal bleeding. It is often associated with low iron anemia sometimes called blood iron deficiency anemia.

Performing the Test

During a fecal occult blood (FOBT) test, a small sample of stool is placed on a chemically treated card or pad, and then put into a chemical solution. If the card, pad, or cloth turns blue, there is blood in the stool sample. A test kit is usually given to the patient by a doctor and when the stool is brought in to the doctor's office, it is sent to a lab and the results are found in a matter of days. You can also perform the test completely on your own as it is something that can be purchased over-the-counter.

Diagnosing Digestive Problems

There are many gastrointestinal tract problems which can be diagnosed with a Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT). Some of them are:

It is important to note that while a fecal occult blood test may find blood in stool, it is not used to diagnose any problem beyond that. One stool blood is found, other tests for specific problems should be performed to make the correct diagnosis. Such tests are:

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