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Gastrointestinal (GI) infections affect more than a billion people around the world each year. When a patient has a GI infection, samples are often sent to a clinical laboratory to identify it. In order to produce useful results, multiple molecular tests are often performed.
- Test provide an analysis of several different bacteria, viruses, and parasites (pathogens) during the testing process.
- The results will be used to determine the specific infection that’s causing a patient’s GI infection.
Stool analysis is one of the most common methods used to identify a GI infection. A microscopic examination typically includes an analysis of microbial balance, absorption, and digestion. Changes in consistency, pH, and color along with the presence of sugars, bile, and other components can help determine what may be causing a GI infection. Samples are also checked for viral and bacterial antigens; or foreign substances that trigger a response from the immune system.
If a patient’s GI infection is believed to be related to bacteria, a bacterial culture may be performed. Microbial cultures can determine the type of organism that’s causing issues with the GI tract and how many of those organisms are active.
Molecular Assays for Virus Detection
When a virus is the suspected source of a GI infection, molecular assays may be done. Results can be qualitative in order to determine if a suspected virus exists or quantitative to determine how of the virus exists within a patient’s GI tract.
Components in blood can be isolated to identify molecular irregularities or anomalies that may suggest that a certain type of infection is present. Results may also identify the specific microorganism that’s causing gastrointestinal issues.
A sample-to-answer assay is a newer form of molecular test that produces results faster than what can be done with traditional culture testing. Involving the use of special instruments, these rapid molecular diagnostic tests require less hands-on time and can make it easier to perform tests to identify GI infections.
Clearly Presented Results
Regardless of the type of molecular testing that’s done, the goal of is to present possible sources of infection backed by solid evidence in the results given to clients. Common sources of GI infections that can be identified with molecular tests include:
- Adenovirus: Often associated with diarrhea and bladder infections
- Campylobacter: A common bacterial cause of gastroenteritis
- Escherichia coli (E. coli): A leading cause of diarrheal diseases that often affects travelers
- Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori): Usually a sign that a patient may be susceptible to developing gastric and duodenal ulcers
- Rotavirus: The most common viral source of diarrhea in children
- Salmonella and Shigella: Suggests that a patient’s GI infection is related to something that was eaten; usually it involves raw, uncooked, or spoiled food
We’ll ensure thorough, reliable results when testing is needed to identify gastrointestinal infections. With GI infections, serologic (blood serum) tests are often done to further confirm results. It’s this added attention to detail that will benefit both doctors and patients.