Medical Practice

Bristol Stool Form Scale

Image of the NHS Bristol Stool Form ScaleThis post is about excrement. Yes, I’m afraid you read that right. Those readers who are surfing while dining, who are suddenly feeling faint of heart, or who are simply disinterested are hereby excused, and invited to scroll down to less scatological posts. The rest of us will explore the uses of the Bristol Stool Form Scale.

Think about it for a moment. Your darling child is suffering from a digestive irregularity, or perhaps you are. You know what was most recently eaten, you can take a temperature, you know exactly how often there has been an episode of said irregularity. And then the doctor asks the question no one is ever really prepared to answer. “Can you describe the stool, please?”

Well, no, of course you can’t. Where to begin? What comparisons does one draw? The mind boggles.

Fortunately, the British National Health Service has come to your rescue with this handy chart. With seven “types” to choose from, the Bristol Stool Form Scale ensures that you need never be speechless again. Or, if you prefer, you can be speechless — simply print off the chart, carry it to your doctor as needed, and point. No description required.

Strictly optional in the USA; sometimes mandatory in the UK. If you’re in the USA, print a copy for your doctor to keep. It’s sure to be appreciated.

Via Dr. Crippen’s NHS Blog Doctor

5 replies on “Bristol Stool Form Scale”


You’ve got some great content on Gearability now – I’m really impressed. And this post, well, I’m speechless. I will print this out to post on our fridge as an appetite supressant!!!!

That’s really funny, Mona! I don’t think I’d dare put it on my fridge, though. I’m such a type A that I might use it as a goal-setter . . . and the less said about that, the better!

I’m one of those people whose focus is often on my mother’s bowel movements, since she takes heavy duty iron supplements, so this is great for me…except, oddly, the standard character of my mother’s movements doesn’t seem to be represented! Hmmm…

Hmmm, indeed. Perhaps we need definitions for, say, Type 2.5? I admit that I made no attempt at all to determine exactly how the NHS developed this chart, and I am interested to discover that it is apparently not comprehensive. You’d think they’d have been pretty thorough . . . this sort of scale isn’t devised in a day, you know! In the USA, a hefty grant would probably have been an essential component.

Now we know why doctors get paid good money to put up with our
“c_ _p.” It is not enough!

It does surprise me that so many of us have to joke about our BM’s. I guess despite our educations we are still a little anal-retentive.

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