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Flushable reagent stool blood test

Flushable reagent stool blood test is an at-home test to detect hidden blood in the stool.

Alternative Names

Stool occult blood test - flushable home test; Fecal occult blood test - flushable home test

How the Test is Performed

This test is performed at home with disposable pads. You can buy the pads at the drug store without a prescription. Brand names include EZ-Detect, HomeChek Reveal, and ColoCARE.

You do not handle stool directly with this test. You simply note any changes you see on a card and then mail the results card to your health care provider.

To do the test:

  • Urinate if you need to, then flush the toilet before having a bowel movement.
  • After the bowel movement, place the disposable pad in the toilet.
  • Watch for a change of color on the test area of the pad. Results will appear in about 2 minutes.
  • Note the results on the card provided, then flush the pad away.
  • Repeat for the next two bowel movements.

The different tests have different methods to check for water quality. Check the package for instructions.

How to Prepare for the Test

Some medicines may interfere with this test.

Check with your health care provider about changes in your medicines you may need to make. Never stop taking a medicine or change how you take it without first talking to your doctor.

Check test package to see if there are any foods you need to stop eating before doing the test.

How the Test will Feel

This test involves only normal bowel functions, and there is no discomfort.

Why the Test is Performed

This test is mainly performed for colorectal cancer screening. It may also be done in the case of low levels of red blood cells (anemia).

Normal Results

A negative result is normal.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different labs. Talk to your doctor about your test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results of the flushable pad mean there is bleeding present somewhere in the digestive tract, which may be caused by:

  • Swollen, fragile blood vessels in the colon that may result in blood loss
  • Colon cancer
  • Colon polyps
  • Enlarged veins, called varices, in the walls of the esophagus (the tube that connects your throat to your stomach) that bleed
  • When the lining of the stomach or the esophagus becomes inflamed or swollen
  • Infections in the stomach and intestines
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Crohn disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Ulcer in the stomach or first part of the intestines

Other causes of a positive test, which do not indicate a problem in the gastrointestinal tract, include:

  • Coughing up and then swallowing blood
  • Nose bleed

Abnormal test results require follow-up with your doctor.

Risks

The test can have false-positive (the test indicates a problem when there actually is none) or false-negative (the test indicates there is NOT a problem, but there is) results. This is similar to other stool smear tests which can also give false results.

References

Blanke CD, Faigel DO. Neoplasms of the small and large intestine. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 199.

Bresalier RS. Colorectal cancer. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 123.

Updated: 2/2/2013

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.


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