What is this test?
This test detects a parasite called Enterobius vermicularis (pinworm) by collecting the worm or its eggs in stool or directly from the anus (rear end). This test is used to help diagnose suspected enterobiasis, which is an infection with this parasite.
Why do I need this test?
Laboratory tests may be done for many reasons. Tests are performed for routine health screenings or if a disease or toxicity is suspected. Lab tests may be used to determine if a medical condition is improving or worsening. Lab tests may also be used to measure the success or failure of a medication or treatment plan. Lab tests may be ordered for professional or legal reasons. The following is a possible reason why this test may be done:
When and how often should I have this test?
When and how often laboratory tests are done may depend on many factors. The timing of laboratory tests may rely on the results or completion of other tests, procedures, or treatments. Lab tests may be performed immediately in an emergency, or tests may be delayed as a condition is treated or monitored. A test may be suggested or become necessary when certain signs or symptoms appear.
Due to changes in the way your body naturally functions through the course of a day, lab tests may need to be performed at a certain time of day. If you have prepared for a test by changing your food or fluid intake, lab tests may be timed in accordance with those changes. Timing of tests may be based on increased and decreased levels of medications, drugs or other substances in the body.
The age or gender of the person being tested may affect when and how often a lab test is required. Chronic or progressive conditions may need ongoing monitoring through the use of lab tests. Conditions that worsen and improve may also need frequent monitoring. Certain tests may be repeated to obtain a series of results, or tests may need to be repeated to confirm or disprove results. Timing and frequency of lab tests may vary if they are performed for professional or legal reasons.
The tape-swab method may need to be done for 3 consecutive days.
How should I get ready for the test?
This test is best done early in the morning before having your bowel movement or bath.
Before giving a stool sample, tell the healthcare worker if you have diarrhea or are using antibiotics, barium, bismuth, oil, iron, magnesium, or medication to stop diarrhea.
How is the test done?
The tape-swab method and stool collection by digital (finger) rectal exam technique are two ways of collecting eggs or worms.
The position of your body for this test varies. You may be asked to lie on the left side of your chest with your right knee and right thigh drawn up. Your buttocks will be spread as the healthcare worker uses the sticky side of the tape to press against your skin around the anus several times. The tape is then attached to a microscope slide and sent to the laboratory for testing.
The position of your body for this test varies. You may be asked to lie on the left side of your chest with your right knee and right thigh drawn up. You will be asked to inhale slowly as the healthcare worker inserts a lubricated and gloved finger into your anus to collect a stool sample. The sample is placed on a microscope slide and sent to the laboratory for testing.
How will the test feel?
The amount of discomfort you feel will depend on many factors, including your sensitivity to pain. Communicate how you are feeling with the person doing the test. Inform the person doing the test if you feel that you cannot continue with the test.
Generally, this test is not painful. There may be some discomfort when your anus is pressed with the tape.
Generally, this test is not painful. There may be some discomfort when the healthcare worker inserts a lubricated and gloved finger into your anus to collect a stool sample.
What should I do after the test?
There are no special instructions to follow after this test.
What are the risks?
Ask the healthcare worker to explain the risks of this test or procedure to you before it is performed.
What are normal results for this test?
Laboratory test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and many other factors. If your results are different from the results suggested below, this may not mean that you have a disease. Contact your healthcare worker if you have any questions. The following is considered to be a normal result for this test:
What follow up should I do after this test?
Ask your healthcare worker how you will be informed of the test results. You may be asked to call for results, schedule an appointment to discuss results, or notified of results by mail. Follow up care varies depending on many factors related to your test. Sometimes there is no follow up after you have been notified of test results. At other times follow up may be suggested or necessary. Some examples of follow up care include changes to medication or treatment plans, referral to a specialist, more or less frequent monitoring, and additional tests or procedures. Talk with your healthcare worker about any concerns or questions you have regarding follow up care or instructions.
Where can I get more information?
- Kucik CJ, Martin GL, & Sortor BV: Common intestinal parasites. Am Fam Physician 2004; 69(5):1161-1168.
- Henry JB: Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods, 20th ed. Saunders, 2001.
- Cook GC: Enterobius vermicularis infection.. Gut 1994; 35:1159-1162.
- Russell LJ: The pinworm, Enterobius vermicularis. Primary Care 1991; 18/1:13-24.