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Stool Test: C. Difficile Toxin

Medically reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD

What Are Stool Tests?

Testing a stool sample can help doctors find out what's going on when someone has a problem in the stomach, intestines, rectum, or other part of the gastrointestinal (GI) system.

Unlike most other lab tests, parents might need to collect the stool (feces or poop) sample for the test (also called a stool culture or fecal test). The doctor or lab will give instructions on how to do this.

Depending on the type of test, results can be back in 24–48 hours or take 3–4 days.

What Is a C. Difficile Test?

The intestines contain a variety of bacteria, many of which help the body digest food. Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is one of many commonly found in children’s intestines and poop.

Normally, C. difficile (dif-uh-SEEL) bacteria are harmless. But they can make toxins (harmful substances) if there’s a problem with the bacterial balance in the colon. This can happen due to antibiotic treatment, chemotherapy, certain intestinal disorders, or conditions that affect the immune system.

Why Are C. Difficile Tests Done?

Doctors may order a C. difficile toxin stool test if a child recently took antibiotics or has a weaken immune system and has diarrhea, belly pain, a poor appetite, nausea, or a fever.

How Is the Test Done?

At the lab, a technician tests the stool sample for C. difficile toxins.

What if I Have Questions?

If you have questions about the C. difficile test or what the test results mean, talk to your doctor.

Medically reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: June 2023