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Faecal Culture / PCR

Alias: Stool, Faeces

Discipline: Clinical Microbiology

Test information: The detection and recovery of the causative bacterial and parasitic organisms for enteric infection.

Availability: Available locally Monday - Sunday during routine hours: 08:45 - 17:15.

Related Tests:

Specimen Type(s)
  • Faeces;
Other Acceptable Specimen Type(s)
Specimen Container - Adult
  • Fecon 27mL Clear Polypropylene Container with spoon;
  • Sterile CE-marked Universal Container;
Specimen Container - Paediatric
  • Fecon 27mL Clear Polypropylene Container with spoon.;
  • Sterile CE-marked Universal Container;
  • Campylobacter jejuni / coli / lari;
  • Cryptosporidium parvum / hominis;
  • Giardia duodenalis;
  • Salmonella enterica spp;
  • Shigella spp./Enteroinvasive E. coli;
  • Verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC / STEC);
Part of a test profile?
Volume (min) of sample to be sent to laboratory
Patient Preparation, Sample Handling and Transport
  • Do not send more than one specimen from the same patient on the same day.
  • Take sample as soon as possible after onset of symptoms.
  • Ensure any recent foreign travel or seafood consumption is stated in the clinical details section.
  • It is essential when ordering tests using Maxims to answer the specific questions for this sample type to ensure the correct testing algorithm is applied.
  • Specimen may be passed into a clean, dry, disposable bedpan or similar container and transferred to a leak proof container. The specimen is unsatisfactory if any residual soap, detergent or disinfectant remains in the pan.
  • Specimens should be transported to the laboratory without delay during normal working hours.
  • If transport is delayed store at 2-8 °C.
  • Specimens of faeces must be transported to the laboratory and processed within two days of collection. Important pathogens such as Shigella species may not survive the pH changes that occur in faeces specimens which are not promptly delivered to the laboratory, even if refrigerated.
Maximum add on time
Units and Reference Ranges / Interpretation

DNA detected / DNA Not detected

A positive result by PCR indicates the presence of nucleic acid specific to the relevant target. The assay can detect nucleic acid from organisms that may be 1) at a level lower than the detection limit of routine culture methods or 2) non-viable; as a result you may occasionally receive 'DNA DETECTED, Culture Negative' results.

All positive PCR results for bacterial pathogens (Salmonella spp, Shigella spp, Campylobacter spp, and VTEC) will be followed up with culture for the relevant pathogen.

UKAS number
UKAS accredited test?

Microbiological screening of faeces specimens for clearance of pathogens is considered unnecessary, except in infections with Salmonella typhi / paratyphi, amoebic dysentery, Shigella dysenteriae, and E.coli O157.

Formed stools will be rejected with the comment 'Formed Stool Received, please reassess the indication for testing and contact the laboratory within 5 days if testing is still required'.

E.coli O157 is thought to be the most common VTEC/STEC, but at least 150 non-0157 VTEC serotypes have been reported as agents of both sporadic and outbreak associated disease.

A VTEC PCR positive result will always be followed up with specific culture for E.coli O157 initially, followed by further investigations for other clinically significant serogroups and a further report will be issued when available.

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If you have any queries about a test or results interpretation please contact us.

Last updated: 01-06-2023