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Fecal Occult Blood Test

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KEY POINTS

  • A fecal occult blood test is a lab test that looks for hidden or invisible blood in your child’s bowel movements. Your child’s provider will give you a test kit that you will use at home.
  • Your child may need to avoid some medicines or foods for several days before you collect the stool sample. Follow any other instructions your child’s healthcare provider gives you.
  • Ask your child’s health care provider when and how you will get the result of your child’s test.

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What is a fecal occult blood test?

A fecal occult blood test (FOBT) is a lab test that looks for hidden or invisible (occult) blood in your child’s bowel movements. A FOBT can find tiny amounts of blood that can’t be seen by just looking at your child’s bowel movements.

Why is it done?

This test may be done to:

  • Check for a bleeding ulcer or another cause of bleeding in the intestines. Your child may have bleeding in such small amounts that you cannot see the blood by simply looking at a bowel movement. A FOBT can find tiny amounts of hidden blood.
  • Check for causes if blood tests have shown your child has anemia, which is either not having enough red blood cells (RBCs), or not having enough hemoglobin

How do I prepare my child for this test?

Tell your child’s healthcare provider about any medicines, herbs, or supplements that she is taking. When taking the FOBT test, your child may need to avoid some medicines or foods for several days before you collect the samples. Red meat, cantaloupe, and some raw vegetables such as turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, parsnips, and horseradish may cause false positive test results depending on which test your child’s healthcare provider is using.

Follow any other instructions your child’s healthcare provider gives you.

How is the test done?

Your child’s provider will give you a test kit to use at home. Follow the instructions that come with the kit for getting samples of your child’s bowel movements and for returning the cards to a lab. Read all of the instructions that come with the test kit before you start, including how to open the card and where to put the bowel movement sample.

The samples are returned to your child’s provider’s office or sent to the lab and tested. Ask your child’s health care provider when and how you will get the results of your child’s test.

What does the test result mean?

This test checks for the presence of blood in your child’s bowel movements. It does not measure how much blood. It reports just whether blood is present. If the lab finds blood, your child’s healthcare provider will decide what other tests your child needs to find where the blood came from.

What if my child’s test result is not normal?

Test results are only one part of a larger picture that takes into account your child’s medical history and current health. Sometimes a test needs to be repeated to check the first result. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about your child’s results and ask questions such as:

  • If your child needs different tests
  • What kind of treatment your child might need
  • What lifestyle, diet, or other changes your child might need to make
Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2019.4 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2018-08-10
Last reviewed: 2018-05-01
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2018 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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