What Is A Stool Culture Test, Why Is It Done, What Does It Indicate?

What Is A Stool Culture Test?

A Stool culture test looks for viruses, bacteria, or any other germs in your stool. This test can help in finding out what is causing a digestive tract infection.

For a stool culture test, your stool sample is put in a special container with the nutrients that viruses, bacteria or other germs require to grow. The laboratory waits until enough germs are grown that are to be seen under a microscope. Once your doctor knows the type of germ that is causing the infection, your illness could be properly diagnosed and treated.

What Is A Stool Culture Test, Why Is It Done, What Does It Indicate?

Why Is Stool Culture Done?

Stool culture is usually done if you show any of the symptoms such as, diarrhea that lasts more than a few days, stomach pain or cramping, fever, stool that contains blood or mucus, throwing up and nausea.

It might be a serious concern if you are very young or elderly, if you have a weakened immune system, if your symptoms are severe, if you have consumed contaminated food or drunk contaminated water or if you have traveled outside the United States.

You may require antibiotics so as to get rid of the infection or prevent other health issues, such as dehydration.

What Does Stool Culture Indicate?

A stool culture test that is negative, is known to be normal. In such case, no germs are found in the stool and there is no infection.

However, a positive stool culture test result indicates that your stool was infected with a germ, bacteria, or virus. The lab technician will perform other chemical tests to identify the exact type of the bacteria or germ that is causing the infection. The laboratory will inform your doctor which type of the germ it was and accordingly your doctor will prescribe you with the antibiotics or medicines that will fight against it. This can help in treating the infection in a more appropriate manner.


If you suffer from any kind of abdominal pain, irritable bowel movements or diarrhea like symptoms, do consult with your doctor and undergo the prescribed stool culture test or any other test and follow the prescribed treatments.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 29, 2018

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