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Limitations of Equine Fecal Blood Testing

While in a majority of cases equine fecal blood testing with the SUCCEED FBT will provide accurate results for occult blood in a horse’s feces, there are several factors that can limit the reliability of the test in certain situations. It is important that veterinarians understand the variables that may impact results. 

Fecal Sample Variables Affecting the Test

Any test that uses a fecal sample can be affected by the quality of the sample itself as well as proper usage in the kit. Examples of fecal sample variables that may limit the accuracy of the test include:

  • freshness of the fecal sample; a sample that is too old may return a false negative
  • ulcers may bleed intermittently, or not at all if severe; so blood may not always be present in the fecal sample even if there is ulceration, and different fecal samples from the same horse may yield different results

Be sure to keep these factors in mind when using the FBT. We recommend using the freshest fecal sample possible and testing several times to ensure reliable results.

Test Kit Variables Affecting Accuracy

The SUCCEED FBT kit is subject to degradation and inaccurate results if not stored and administered properly.

  • correct water to fecal sample proportions used in the jar – the right ratio is critical to test accuracy
  • age of test kit – organic material in the kit degrades naturally over time, so do not use a test kit that is past its expiration date
  • exposure to heat – both prolonged heat and extreme heat speed the degradation of the antibodies in the test
  • exposure to moisture – moisture also speeds the degradation process
  • ability to see the line – poor lighting, like that in many barns, can make it difficult to see the lines on the test

We have taken careful steps to protect the FBT kit from moisture. We recommend keeping the kit refrigerated at all times, checking expiration dates, and using the kit very carefully in areas with good lighting.

Horse Variables Affecting FBT Accuracy

Blood can be introduced into a horse’s GI tract from external sources and ultimately present in feces.If this occurs, a positive result may not be indicative of GI tract injury. It is important that veterinarians be aware of the horse’s recent history to rule out variables such as:

  • nosebleeds
  • rectal bleeding
  • dental work
  • cardiopulmonary bleeding
  • mare in estrus
  • EIPH

These are a few examples of ways that blood may be present in a horse’s feces but NOT from a source that indicates a GI pathology. We always recommend that veterinarians use the FBT as part of a full diagnostic work-up or wellness program, including the horse’s history and symptomology.

When used properly by a trained and licensed veterinarian as part of a comprehensive diagnostic process, the SUCCEED FBT is a highly accurate tool for helping identify GI tract injury in horses. Be sure to keep these limitations in mind and test appropriately.

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