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String test

 

Definition

A string test involves swallowing a string to obtain a sample from the upper part of the small intestine. The sample is then tested to detect the presence of intestinal parasites. The string test is rarely used in the United States.

Alternative Names

Duodenal parasites test

How the test is performed

You swallow a string with a weighted gelatin capsule on the end. Four hours later it is pulled back out. Any bile, blood, or mucus attached to the string is examined under the microscope for cells and parasites or parasite eggs.

How to prepare for the test

You may be asked not to eat or drink anything for 12 hours before the test.

How the test will feel

You may find it difficult to swallow the string, and you may feel an urge to vomit when the string is being removed.

Why the test is performed

The test is performed when the doctor suspects a parasite infection, but no parasites were found in a stool sample.

Normal Values

No presence of blood, parasites, fungus, or abnormal cells is normal.

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 may indicate the presence of giardia or another parasitic infestation.

What the risks are

Special considerations

Previous drug treatment can affect the test results.

References

Semrad CE, Powell DW. Approach to the patient with diarrhea and malabsorption. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 143.

Sears CL. Giardiasis. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 372.

Hill DR, Nash TE. Giardia lamblia. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 280.


Images
Ascaris lumbricoides egg Gelatin capsule in stomach
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Review Date: 4/18/2010
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.
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