Stool analysis is useful in diagnosing many different conditions.
Stool analysis is used for the following:
Both qualitative and quantitative tests are used to identify excessive fecal fat. The qualitative test involves staining a specimen of stool with a special dye, then examining it microscopically for evidence of malabsorption, such as undigested muscle fiber and various fats. The quantitative test involves drying and weighing a 72-hour stool specimen, then using an extraction technique to separate the fats, which are subsequently evaporated and weighed. This measurement of the total output of fecal fat per 24 hours in a three-day specimen is the most reliable test for steatorrhea.
This test requires a 72-hour stool collection. The patient should abstain from alcohol during this time and maintain a high-fat diet (100gm/day) for three days before the test, and during the collection period. The patient should call the laboratory for instructions on how to collect the specimen.
Undigested fat in stools is one indicator of short bowel syndrome.