Stool Ova and Parasites Test
A stool ova and
parasites (O&P) test is used to detect parasites and eggs in the
intestines. This is a relatively easy and common examination. You produce the
sample on your own at home and the stool is then analyzed in a lab.
When Is an O&P Test Ordered?
The O&P test can be
ordered for a few reasons. A doctor may order this exam for patients who
exhibit symptoms of an intestinal
infection, such as:
- stools with
mucus or blood
- severe abdominal
- nausea or
In some cases, a doctor
might order the exam as a preventive measure before you even start experiencing
symptoms of an infection. The O&P test is standard for children if there is
a parasitic outbreak at daycare or school. You may also consider taking a voluntary
test if you have traveled out of the country, or if you have consumed untreated
water. It is easier to take the test as early as possible. This way, your
doctor can help treat the parasites before any of their eggs hatch in the lower
Preparing for O&P Test
An O&P test usually
doesn’t require preparation. In some cases, your doctor may ask that you avoid
the following prior to collecting the sample:
- contrast dyes
(used in imaging studies and x-rays)
Processing the O&P Test
After a doctor has given the
go-ahead for the O&P test, you should obtain a stool sample at your
convenience. Collect a small sample with the help of latex gloves or plastic
wrap, and then place it in a clean, sealed container. Be careful not to urinate
on the container or the sample.
Obtaining a stool sample
from children requires additional steps. You may need to assist young children,
especially if he or she is not quite potty-trained. Samples may be collected
from diapers so long as they are not soiled with urine.
Once the stool sample is
collected at home, take the sealed container to your designated lab. Here, the
technician will use a dye on the sample to detect any parasites and eggs
present. You don’t have to be present for the processing of the sample. Simply
drop it off and wait until your doctor calls with the results.
O&P Test Results
Patients normally get test
results back within two days (Nemours Foundation). A normal O&P test result means that no eggs or parasites are
present. If you receive a normal result but your symptoms haven’t subsided,
your doctor may order other tests.
Abnormal results mean that
parasites, eggs, or a combination of both were found in the stool sample.
According to the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), the most
common parasites in the United States include:
Worms and other parasites
may be detected with the O&P test, including:
- Balantidium coli
Your doctor will treat the infection
based on the test results. The goal of treatment is to get rid of the infection
and reduce symptoms. Also, treatment will help get rid of the parasites and
Risks of O&P Test
Collecting stool samples is
an easy procedure done in the comfort of your own home. Like other tests of its
kind, the ova and parasites exam poses no health risks. Simply follow your
healthcare provider’s instructions and return the sample to the lab. If you
experience difficulties producing stool, call your doctor.
Considerations After the O&P Test
The O&P test is commonly
ordered if your doctor suspects related infections. Still, there are many other
common causes of prolonged diarrhea other than parasitic infection. Your doctor
may order a stool-culture in conjunction with the O&P test in case other
problems are present. Stool cultures detect bacterial infections throughout the
gastrointestinal (GI) tract.