Stool (feces) is an important body substance to check for the presence of disease-causing microorganisms, particularly parasites and bacteria. For the most part, laboratories use microbiology tests – similar to microbiological blood tests – to determine if disease-causing microorganisms are present.
Three main types of microbiological tests are commonly performed on feces:
Routine culture involves streaking the sample onto agar plates containing special additives, such as MacConkey's Agar, which will inhibit the growth of Gram-positive organisms and will selectively allow enteric pathogens to grow. These pathogens are incubated for a period, and the bacterial colonies observed.
The main pathogens that are commonly looked for in feces include:
A microbiological assessment of bacterial populations in the GI tract is important for determining the nature of the imbalance when dysbiosis is suspected. Repeat testing should occur after treatment to ensure that the imbalance has been corrected.
The most useful test for large intestine dysbiosis is a Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA) which includes an evaluation of many different aspects of digestion as well as a report on bacterial growth.