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Written by
Dr. Betina Chandolia
BDS, MDS - Oral Pathology and Microbiology
Reviewed by
Dr. Ashish Ranjan
MBBS, MD (Pharmacology)
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Stool Culture and Sensitivity (Aerobic)

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This test is for
Male, Female
Test Preparation
  1. No special preparation required


What is Stool Culture and Sensitivity (Aerobic)?


Culture stool test is done to detect the presence of infectious bacteria in the digestive tract and to diagnose the stomach problems. This test differentiates between healthy and infectious micro flora in the gut. The infectious microorganisms enter inside the body either through contaminated food and water or due to side effects of some antibiotics. This test is recommended if a person suffers from stomach pain, abnormal bowel movements, persistent diarrhea, blood in stool, nausea, and fever.
Immediate medication is necessary after diagnosis. If ignored sometimes the patient may need hospitalization due to excessive fluid loss. Maintenance of proper hygiene and drinking enough water can help in mitigating the chances of infection.



Why is Stool Culture and Sensitivity (Aerobic) done?

The stool culture test is done in the following conditions:

  • If your doctor suspects any stomach or intestinal infection

  • If you experience signs or symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and fever for a long time 

  • If you have severe symptoms such as extreme dehydration or have diarrhea from traveling to another country.


What does Stool Culture and Sensitivity (Aerobic) Measure?

The stool culture test detects the presence of bacteria in the stool which is responsible for causing the infection in the lower digestive tract. This test differentiates between pathogenic (disease-causing) and bacteria of normal flora which are present in the digestive tract. 

Certain microorganisms are a normal part of the flora which is present in everyone’s digestive tract. These aid in food digestion and also keeps a check on the growth of disease-causing bacteria. 

Certain medicines such as broad-spectrum antibiotics obstruct the growth of normal flora (certain bacteria and fungi) and let other bacteria such as Clostridium difficile grow and survive in the digestive tract. Clostridium difficile are resistant to antibiotics which makes it difficult to treat.  These conditions lead to symptoms such as abdominal pain and diarrhea

Pathogenic bacteria enter the human body through the intake of contaminated food and water. They start causing infection as soon as they enter the digestive tract. Sources of contaminated food include raw or undercooked eggs, beef or poultry, and unpasteurized milk. Sources of contaminated water include water from lakes or community water supplies. 

The risk of exposure to pathogenic bacteria is more in developing nations. The symptoms of infection from pathogenic bacteria include prolonged diarrhea, blood in the stool, mucus in the stool, pain and cramps in the abdomen, and nausea. If diarrhea is not treated, it may cause further complications like dehydration and electrolyte imbalance which can be threatening, especially for children and elderly patients. Further, the symptoms of dehydration include dry skin, fatigue, and light-headedness.

In case of severe complications, the patient may have to be hospitalized to provide a replacement for lost fluids and electrolytes. Certain bacteria such as Escherichia coli release toxins which can cause serious complications like Hemolytic uremic syndrome in which there is the destruction of red blood cells and kidney failure.

The stool culture test is advised in case the symptoms become severe such as bloody diarrhea or mucus starts to appear in the stool. 



Interpreting Stool Culture and Sensitivity (Aerobic) results


  • A positive result means that there is growth of a pathogenic microorganism in the stool sample, which indicates an infection. 

  • A negative result means that there are no pathogenic organisms present in the stool sample.


Answers to Patient Concerns & Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Stool Culture and Sensitivity (Aerobic)

Frequently Asked Questions about Stool Culture and Sensitivity (Aerobic)

Q. Is there any special preparation required for the test?
No, there is no special preparation required for the test.
Q. What is Travelers’ diarrhea?
Diarrhea which occurs in people who are traveling is referred to as Travelers’ diarrhea. In this, three or more unformed stools are passed in the time span of 24 hours. It occurs due to intake of contaminated food and water. The contamination could be due to bacteria, parasites, or fungi. Other symptoms include nausea, abdominal cramps, and bloating.
Q. What precautions can be taken to avoid bacterial infection of the digestive tract?
The first and foremost precaution to be taken is to avoid the intake of contaminated food and water. Avoid eating from places where good hygiene practices are not followed. Hands should be washed frequently. Eat properly cooked food, as raw or uncooked food has more chances of causing infection. In addition to that, unpasteurised dairy products should be avoided.
Q. What are the other causes of diarrhea?
The other causes of diarrhea may include viral infections such as norovirus, parasitic infections (e.g., giardiasis, hepatitis A), food intolerance, medications, bowel disease or bowel dysfunction (e.g., celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease), or malabsorption.
Q. Does normal stool contains bacteria?
Yes, our gastrointestinal system is home to millions of bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori, lactics, enterics, enterococci, bifidobacteria, bacteroides, clostridia, and methanogens. These are called good bacteria because they help us in digestion.
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