Contact Us | Patient Portal | Search:
Printer Friendly VersionEmail A FriendAdd ThisIncrease Text SizeDecrease Text Size

Stool C. difficile toxin

 

Definition

The stool C. difficile toxin test detects harmful substances produced by the bacterium Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) in a stool sample. This infection is a common cause of diarrhea after antibiotic use.

How the test is performed

A sample of a stool is submitted for laboratory analysis. There are several methods used to detect C. difficile toxin in the stool specimen.

Today, an enzyme immunoassay (EIA) is most often used to detect substances produced by the bacteria. The EIA is faster than previous culture tests, simpler to perform, and results are available in about an hour. However, it is slightly less sensitive than previous methods. Several stool samples may be needed to get an accurate result.

How to prepare for the test

There are many ways to collect the samples. You can catch the stool on plastic wrap that is loosely placed over the toilet bowl and held in place by the toilet seat. Then you put the sample in a clean container. One test kit supplies a special toilet tissue that you use to collect the sample. After collecting the sample, you put it in a container.

Do not mix urine, water, or toilet tissue with the sample.

For children wearing diapers, you can line the diaper with plastic wrap. If the plastic wrap is positioned properly, it will prevent urine and stool from mixing to provide a better sample.

How the test will feel

There is no discomfort.

Why the test is performed

You may have this test if your doctor suspects that diarrhea is caused by recent antibiotic use. Antibiotics change the balance of bacteria in the colon. This sometimes leads to too much growth of C. difficile.

Diarrhea caused by C. difficile after antibiotic use often occurs in hospitalized patients. It also can occur in people who have not recently taken antibiotics.

Normal Values

No C. difficile toxin is detected.

Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What abnormal results mean

Abnormal results mean that C. difficile toxins are likely present in the stool and are causing diarrhea.

What the risks are

There are no risks associated with testing for C. difficile toxin.

Special considerations

Since the test for C. difficile toxin is not 100% sensitive, several stool samples may be needed to detect it.

References

Bartlett JG. Clostridial infections. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 319.

Thielman NM, Wilson KH. Antibiotic-associated colitis. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 96.


Images
Clostridium difficile organism
Read More

Review Date: 4/12/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; George F Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2009 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
MAIMONIDES
MEDICAL CENTER


Home Page
Why Choose Us
Donations
Website Terms of Use
PATIENT
INFORMATION


Visitor & Patient Info
Patient Portal
We Speak Your Language
Patient Privacy
Contact Us
KEY
INFORMATION


Find a Physician
Medical Services
Maimonides In the News
Directions & Parking
FOR HEALTH
PROFESSIONALS


Medical Education
Career Opportunities
Nurses & Physicians
Staff Intranet Access

Maimonides Medical Center    |    4802 Tenth Avenue    |    Brooklyn, NY 11219    |    718.283.6000