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Stool Culture

Specimen Type:


also known as Fecal Culture, Routine Stool Culture



Specimen requirements:

Denture Container for Fecal Samples and MCC Stool Collection Kit

Unit of measure:


Ideal sample:

Fecal material equal to an egg, or a rectal swab.

Absolute minimum amount:

2 gm or Rectal Swab

Method of collection:

See special instructions below.


MCC stool collection kit (available from Micro Lab)

Label instructions:

All containers must be labeled with patient name and medical record number.

Request test on form:

Multi Labs/Micro/Viro/Serology ( 151-905 )

Order/entry screen(s):


Stat frequency:


Stat turn around time:


Routine frequency:

Maximum of 1 culture/24 hours.

Must be in by:


Routine turn around time:

48-72 Hours for a negative cutlure

For Hillcrest deliver to:

Microbiology : Room 2-105

For Thornton deliver to:

Microbiology : Processing Desk, 1st floor,


Hospital, room 1-013

Scheduling requirements :




Special Instructions:

Inpatients:  Instruct patient to defecate into a clean, dry bedpan without mineral oil. Submit 2 or 3 specimens on separate days to increase the probability of isolating a pathogen. If antibiotics are to be initiated, then it is acceptable to submit 2 samples in a single day, as long as the samples are from separate bowel movements. 


Routine Cultures for enteric pathogens and/or exams for ova and parasites will not be accepted from patients hospitalized for 3 or more days.  Clinical studies show that the most common cause of nosocomial diarrhea is Clostridium difficile cytotoxin and samples from these patients should be submitted for C. difficile toxin testing.  Please call the lab if there is a clinical reason to deviate from this policy.


Caregivers:  Remove a portion of the specimen with spoon attached to collection vial and place in collection containers.  Keep adding sample until the liquid level in each vial reaches the red fill line.  Mix the contents of each vial with the spoon.  Recap the vial making sure the lid is tight.  Shake the vial until the contents are well mixed.  Attach a patient label to each vial and return all vials into the plastic bag.  Put that bag into a red biohazard sample collection bag.  It is best to place a portion of the sample into all 3 collection tubes.  The yellow vial from the collection kit contains Modified Cary Blair Medium and will sustain enteric pathogens until they are submitted to the lab.  Routine stool culture includes culturing for Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter, Aeromonas, and E.coli 0157 H7.  Specify specific pathogens such as Yersinia, Vibrio cholera, or others.  If these pathogens are not specified, they might not be isolated because they must be plated onto specialized selective media outside the routine panel.  There must be a specific request for ova and parasites (including Cryptosporidium), Microsporidia, Cyclospora.  Clinical significance of culture and general considerations:  to identify infectious organisms occurring in the lower gastrointestinal tract.


Outpatients:  Supply patient with a large-mouth denture cup for initial collection and the MCC stool collection kit consisting of 3 vials.  Include instruction sheet above.


Results are available on a Chart Copy


Results are Qualitative

SOFT LAB abbreviation:


Secondary code:


Lab Processing Instructions:

Transfer sample to MCC collection kit (available in Micro Lab)