Fat - faeces

Last updated: Thursday, 15, April, 2004

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Item Process

Minimum of 72 hour faecal collection (comprising at least 150 g of faeces).

Patient must be on a diet containing 70-100 g of fat per day for at least four days prior to, and during, the test.


Gravimetric or titrimetric.

If the patient is taking medium chain triglycerides this must be stated on the request form, as a special analytical procedure is required.

Faecal fat content can be assessed qualitatively by microscopy.

Reference Interval

Total lipid <20 mmol/24 hours.


Investigation of malabsorption syndrome and documentation of steatorrhoea.

This test is falling from favour as better tests of pancreatci function are now available.


High levels are seen in steatorrhoea caused by pancreatic, biliary or intestinal disorders.

Inadequate specimen collection can result in failure to detect steatorrhoea.


Hill PG. Ann Clin Biochem 2001; 38(3): 164-167.