Clostridium Difficile, or C. Diff for short, is a severe intestinal infection of the colon. Symptoms of C. Diff may include frequent watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, weight loss and fever. If left untreated it can lead to severe dehydration and may be fatal in extreme cases.
Unfortunately C. Diff can be difficult to treat and multiple recurrences are not uncommon. Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) is used to treat recurrent C. Diff infections, or severe cases that do not respond to treatment. FMT works by instilling healthy donor stool into the colon during a colonoscopy. The “good” bacteria from the donor stool will repopulate in the intestine of the recipient and restore the normal balance of bacteria, thus inhibiting the growth of c. diff.
Candidates for the procedure must have recurrent C. Diff, which is defined as at least 3 episodes of mild to moderate C. Diff or 2 or more severe episodes resulting in hospitalization. Other indications for the procedure are moderate C. Diff not responding to standard therapy for at least one week or severe C. Diff with no response to standard therapy after 48-72 hours.
Donors must undergo blood and stool testing prior to the procedure to screen for communicable or infective diseases. Once the donor passes all screening tests then the procedure can take place. The procedure itself takes about 30 minutes to complete and is most commonly done as an outpatient procedure. Response to FMT may take several weeks, however we have found that many patients respond within a day or two of the procedure. The published success rate from multiple studies is greater than 90% in preventing future relapses. To date, adverse events have been extremely uncommon and the process of stool transplantation has been well tolerated.
The GI/Hepatology Care Team of TriHealth Physician Partners Gastroenterology is available to discuss care options for recurrent C Diff infection.