Faeces collection: occult blood

This test is useful in detecting whether blood (which may not be visible to the eye) is present in your faeces. This can be a marker of infection or disease.

This test requires you to collect a sample of your faeces.

DO NOT collect a sample if you have any of the following conditions

  • Menstrual bleeding: DO NOT collect faecal samples for this test during your menstrual period, or within 3 days of completing your menstrual period.
  • Bleeding haemorrhoids.
  • Constipation bleeding: DO NOT use rectal suppositories during this test.
  • Urinary bleeding.

Medication guidelines

  • Alcohol and certain medications such as aspirin, indomethacin, reserpine, phenylbutazone, corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may cause gastrointestinal irritation and bleeding in some patients. DO NOT take aspirin for 7 days before or during the test. However, if your doctor has prescribed the use of aspirin or other NSAIDs, you should continue to take them.
  • You may continue taking iron supplements. DO NOT stop taking prescribed iron supplements without consulting your doctor.

Diet guidelines

For this test, we recommend that you follow a high-fibre diet. Start this diet 72 hours before your test and continue it throughout the test period. Include high-fibre foods (e.g. whole-wheat bread, bran, cereal, and popcorn) in your diet.

Collection procedure

Step 1 Obtain a faeces occult blood sampling bottle from a Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology collection centre. (Other containers are not acceptable for this test.)

Step 2 Place a clean receptacle or toliet liner into the toilet bowl and use this to catch your faeces.

  • Note: If using a toilet liner, these are biodegradable and suitable for use in all toilets, including rural and septic systems. Once the sample has been collected, they simply flush.

Step 3 Be sure to keep the sampling bottle upright, as it contains a special stabilising agent. Make sure you DO NOT discard or spill any of this agent.

Unscrew the lid and insert the threaded end of the sampler into your faeces specimen at least 5 times, each time in a different place. Insert the threaded end of the sampler back into the sampling bottle and tighten it firmly. Shake the tube vigorously to mix the specimen and the stabilising agent.

Label the sampling bottle with your full name, date of birth, and the date and time of collection. Keep the sampling bottle at room temperature.

Step 4 Place the sampling bottle into a sealed plastic bag and return it to your nearest collection centre.


If your doctor has ordered multiple faeces occult blood tests, follow the above procedure on separate days, consecutive if possible. The sampling bottles can be held and delivered after the final sample has been collected, or may be delivered to the collection centre after each individual collection.

Each sampling bottle must be received by the collection centre within 5 days of collection.

Reminder: It is important that you label all of your specimens with your full name, date of birth, and the date and time of collection.

Item number 34174 - Issue Date September 2018