Fecal Fat Quantitative Test (72-Hour Collection)

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A fecal fat test is done to find out whether fat is being properly absorbed by your child's intestines. Your child will need to have a high fat diet for 2 days before the test and continue during the 3 days of stool collection. You will be recording the foods your child eats and collecting stool for the testing period. 

What to feed your child:balanced diet with extra fat

  • Two days before the test and during the test, your child needs to eat a balanced diet with extra fat (Picture 1).

Some ways to add fat to your child's diet are:

  • Use extra margarine or butter on cooked vegetables, potatoes, rice and noodles.
  • Use gravy on meats and potatoes.
  • Serve whole milk instead of low-fat or skim milk.
  • Use margarine and peanut butter on crackers and breads.
  • Use margarine or mayonnaise on both slices of bread for sandwiches.
  • Serve high fat proteins such as hot dogs, lunch meats, cheese and peanut butter.
  • Serve cheese on sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs and crackers.
  • Serve cream soups made with whole milk and margarine.

If your baby is taking formula only, it will provide enough fat in the diet.  If baby foods are part of his or her daily diet, add margarine to the vegetables and gravy to the meats. Measure all the food and liquid your child eats and drinks while on this diet.  

Write on the Food Record on pages 5 through 7 to record all food and liquid your child eats.  Refer to Picture 3 on page 3 for an example.

Stool collection

You will need:toilet hat

  • Clean container (paint can)
  • Several wooden tongue depressors or plastic spoons
  • Several white “toilet hats," clean dry container, or plastic wrap (for an older child)
  • Label the container with the child’s full legal name, date of birth, and collection date and time.
  • Latex or vinyl exam gloves (optional)

To collect the specimen

Put on gloves before handling your child’s stool.  Stool can contain material that spreads infection. Wash your hands after you remove your gloves.

Infant:

  • After your baby has a bowel movement, collect the stool from the diaper.If your baby is having liquid stool, use a disposable diaper and put the plastic side next to the skin. Leave the diaper on this way just long enough to collect the stool specimen. The stool must not have any contact with urine.
  • Do not put any lotions or ointments on the infant’s diaper or diaper area. Greasy ointments or lotions can cause incorrect results. The only diaper rash treatments that may be used are cornstarch and Resinol.

Toddler:

  • If your toddler is toilet trained, collect the stool specimen from a clean, dry, training potty. If he or she is not toilet trained, collect the specimen from the training pants or diaper. The specimen must not have any contact with urine.
  • Do not put any lotions or ointments on the toddler’s training pants, diaper or diaper area. Greasy lotions or ointments can cause incorrect results. The only diaper rash treatments that may be used are cornstarch and Resinol.

Older child:

  • You will be given a white “toilet hat” to collect the specimens (Picture 2). Have your child use this container for all bowel movements. When the child is ready to have a bowel movement, place the “toilet hat” on the rim of the toilet bowl, just under the toilet seat and in line with your child’s bottom.If using plastic wrap, loosely drape a long section of plastic wrap over the rim on both sides of the toilet bowl creating a “pocket” in the center. Have your child sit directly over the collection container or plastic wrap to collect the stool sample.
  • Do not collect the stool from the toilet. The stool must not have any contact with urine.

Other important information:

  • Use the wooden tongue depressor or spoon to place the stool specimen in a clean container.
  • Save all stools for the next 3 days. Do not collect urine in the same container. Collect all stools, even if they are loose and watery (diarrhea).
  • Do not give laxatives that contain oil or mineral oil.Do not give suppositories.
  • Keep the stools cold at 38 degrees to 40 degrees F.You may keep the can in a cooler with ice in it or put it in the refrigerator. (Put the can in a clean plastic bag before you put it in the refrigerator.)
  • Do not fill the paint can more than 2/3 full. If another container is needed, please contact Laboratory Services at (800) 934-6575.
  • Bring the stool specimen to a Nationwide Children’s Laboratory Service Center.

Keeping the Food Recordfood record

Record the type and amount of all food and liquid the child eats during the 3-day collection period. Use the comment column to record vomiting or anything else that may affect your child's food intake. Picture 3 shows an example of a completed food record

Schedule for the Fecal Fat Test

Day 1
(date)________

Starting with breakfast, give your child a high fat diet all day. You do not need to record this food or collect the stool on this day.

Day 2
(date)________

Give your child a high fat diet all day. You do not need to record this food or collect the stool on this day.

Day 3 through day 5
(date)________
(date)________
(date)________

Continue to give your child a high fat diet all day.

Record all food and liquid the child eats

(Use the Food Record).

Start saving all of your child's stool and continue for the 3-day period.

Put the stool in the paint can and keep the can in the refrigerator or ice chest with ice.

After the Stool Collectionstool sample

  • When the 3-day collection period is completed, label the stool container with your child's full legal name, date of birth and the collection dates (Example: Jane Doe (5/5/06), 10/4 to 10/8).
  • You may take the stool container to one of the Nationwide Children’s Laboratory Service Centers. If you do, please mail the Food Record to the GI Services Office, 700 Children’s Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43205. (Picture 4).
  • Call the Nationwide Children’s Hospital GI office at (614) 722-3450 in 3 weeks to get the test results and medical plan of treatment.
  • If you have any questions, please ask your child’s doctor or nurse or call the GI Department at (614) 722-3450.

Drop-off options

  • You may take the specimen to any Laboratory Service Center or Nationwide Children’s Close To Home Center during regular business hours.For business hours and locations, please call Laboratory Services at (800) 934-6575 or visit NationwideChildrens.org/Lab.
  • Nationwide Children’s Outpatient Reference Laboratory is located in the lower level at 555 S. 18th Street, Columbus, Ohio 43205.Business hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. and Saturday, 8:30 A.M. to 3:30 P.M.
  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital Admitting Department on main campus is open for drop-offs Monday through Friday, 7:00 P.M. through 11:30 P.M.

Other information

  • Collect the specimen even if your child has diarrhea (loose bowels).
  • Collect the specimen in the container given to you unless you are given other instructions.Different tests use different containers.
  • If you are collecting specimens for more than one child, make sure each specimen container is labeled with the correct child’s full legal name and date of birth.
  • If you have any questions, be sure to ask your child’s doctor or nurse.

For directions to the nearest Laboratory Service Center, please call Laborator Services at (800) 934-6575 or visit NationwideChildrens.org/Lab.

Fecal Fat Test (72-Hour Collection) (PDF)

HH-III-73 5/88, Revised 11/17 Copyright 1988, Nationwide Children’s Hospital