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Summary

Purpose

To review the current clinical literature regarding the use of fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) for severe and recurrent Clostridium difficile disease (CDAD).

Background

Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) is a gram positive, spore forming bacteria, and an important nosocomial pathogen causing healthcare associated diarrhoea in hospitalized patients in developed and developing countries. During the past several years, CDAD has become more frequent, severe, refractory, and more likely to relapse. It has become apparent that C. difficile is no longer just a nosocomial infection, with a rising rate of infection in populations not previously affected. Standard treatment regimens and new medications exist, but recurrence rates are high.

Methods

Using PubMed, we conducted a Boolean search with the following medical subject headings (MeSH): Clostridium difficile infection and fecal transplantation or recurrent C. difficile infection. We restricted the search to human studies, published in English, between 2011 through June 1, 2013.

Results

There were 104 publications identified. Of those related to FMT, there were 20 clinical reviews, 6 case reports, 3 clinical trials (one, a randomized control trial), and 1 meta-analysis. Since 1958 there have been 36 published reports of FMT for C. difficile infection (CDI) representing 583 patients. Success rates were higher when FMT was administered via colonoscopy (representing the majority of patients, 79.2%). The overall success rate for FMT, regardless of administration method, was 80–98%.

Conclusion

Fecal microbiota transplantation attempts to restore the normal microbiome of the colon, and has achieved a cure rate reaching more than 90%. Mounting evidence supports the utility of FMT for severe and recurrent cases of CDI. Barriers that will need to be addressed are patient perceptions and fears, standard protocol development, and further clinical trials.