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Detecting Blood in Stools: Diagnostic Tests and Their Importance

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Blood in stools, also known as rectal bleeding, is a common symptom that can be caused by a variety of medical conditions. It is important to determine the underlying cause of rectal bleeding to ensure proper treatment and prevent complications. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of diagnostic tests in detecting blood in stools, including their types and indications.

Types of Diagnostic Tests for Blood in Stools

There are several types of diagnostic tests that can be used to detect blood in stools, including:

Fecal Occult Blood Test

The fecal occult blood test (FOBT) is a non-invasive test that detects small amounts of blood in the stool that may not be visible to the naked eye. The test involves collecting a small sample of stool and sending it to a laboratory for analysis. FOBT is commonly used as a screening tool for colon cancer.

Stool Culture

Stool culture is a test that is used to detect the presence of bacteria or parasites in the stool. The test involves collecting a small sample of stool and sending it to a laboratory for analysis. Stool culture is commonly used to diagnose infections that may cause rectal bleeding, such as bacterial infections or parasitic infections.

Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is a procedure that allows doctors to examine the inside of the colon (large intestine) and rectum. During the procedure, a flexible tube with a camera on the end is inserted into the rectum, allowing the doctor to see images of the inside of the colon on a monitor. Colonoscopy is commonly used to diagnose conditions such as colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and diverticulitis.

Indications for Diagnostic Tests for Blood in Stools

Diagnostic tests for blood in stools may be recommended for a variety of reasons, such as:

Rectal Bleeding. Rectal bleeding is a common symptom of several medical conditions and may be an indication for diagnostic tests to identify the underlying cause.
Changes in Bowel Habits. Changes in bowel habits such as diarrhea or constipation may be an indication for diagnostic tests to evaluate the digestive tract and identify any issues.
Abdominal Pain. Abdominal pain is a common symptom of digestive disorders and may be an indication for diagnostic tests to help diagnose the underlying cause of the pain.
Abnormal Imaging Results. Abnormal imaging results such as X-rays or CT scans may be an indication for diagnostic tests to help diagnose the underlying condition.
Family History of Colon Cancer. A family history of colon cancer may be an indication for diagnostic tests such as colonoscopy to screen for the disease.

Importance of Diagnostic Tests for Blood in Stools

Diagnostic tests for blood in stools are important for several reasons, including:

  • Accurate Diagnosis. Diagnostic tests allow doctors to accurately diagnose the underlying cause of rectal bleeding, which can help ensure proper treatment and prevent complications.
  • Early Detection. Diagnostic tests can help detect medical conditions such as colon cancer at an early stage when treatment is most effective.
  • Targeted Treatment. Diagnostic tests allow doctors to identify the source of the problem, which can help them develop a targeted treatment plan.
  • Prevention of Complications. Early detection and treatment of medical conditions that cause rectal bleeding can help prevent complications such as anemia, infection, or colon cancer.
  • Peace of Mind. Diagnostic tests can provide peace of mind by ruling out serious medical conditions and identifying the underlying cause of rectal bleeding.

It is important to note that some medical conditions that cause rectal bleeding may not have any symptoms other than blood in stools. Therefore, if you notice blood in your stools, it is important to seek medical attention even if you are not experiencing any other symptoms.

In addition to diagnostic tests, there are several steps you can take to prevent rectal bleeding. These include:

  • Maintaining a Healthy Diet. Eating a diet that is high in fiber and low in fat can help prevent constipation and reduce the risk of rectal bleeding.
  • Staying Hydrated. Drinking plenty of water can help prevent dehydration, which can contribute to constipation and rectal bleeding.
  • Exercising Regularly. Regular exercise can help promote healthy digestion and reduce the risk of constipation and rectal bleeding.
  • Practicing Good Hygiene. Washing your hands regularly and practicing good hygiene can help prevent infections that may cause rectal bleeding.
  • Avoiding Certain Medications. Some medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and blood thinners, can increase the risk of rectal bleeding. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any medications you are taking.

Conclusion

Rectal bleeding is a common symptom that can be caused by a variety of medical conditions. Diagnostic tests such as fecal occult blood tests, stool cultures and colonoscopy are important tools in identifying the underlying cause of rectal bleeding.

These tests allow doctors to accurately diagnose the underlying condition, detect medical conditions at an early stage, develop a targeted treatment plan, prevent complications, and provide peace of mind.

If you are experiencing rectal bleeding, it is important to talk to your doctor about diagnostic tests that may be recommended to help identify the underlying cause and ensure proper treatment.

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