AMSTERDAM (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Fecal transplants effected a clinical cure in 97% of patients with recurrent Clostridium difficile infection, a small prospective study has determined.

However, the transplants, which were administered via duodenal intubation, were not without serious adverse events, Dr. Yvette van Beurden said at the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases annual congress.

Five patients regurgitated or vomited fecal material, and one of these patients died, presumably from aspiration pneumonia related to the event, said Dr. van Beurden of the VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam.

The study was relatively small – 39 patients – but provided up to 2 years of follow-up on them. All were treated at Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, from 2010 to 1016.

They were a mean of 73 years old, but the age range was wide (14-97 years). All had experienced recurrent C. difficile infections. The mean recurrence rate was four, but again this varied widely, from one recurrence to 10.

Thus, they had also experienced a mean of four courses of antibiotic treatment, with a range similar to the recurrence range. At the time of transplant, they were a mean of 6 months past their last recurrence.

The transplant protocol called for a minimum of 4 days of vancomycin treatment before transplant, and a full bowel prep 1 day before. The transplant itself consisted of 500 mL of fresh donor feces in solution; it was obtained from a household contact or healthy volunteer and administered by duodenal tube. Patients were discharged on the same day of infusion.

The mean follow-up was 21 months, also with a wide range (3-68 months).

A clinical cure – not microbiologically confirmed – occurred in 82% of the patients. There were seven recurrences (18%), which all happened within the first 3 months. Of these, two were thought to be related to antibiotic use within the first month of the procedure; the cause of the other recurrences was unknown.

Four of the patients with recurrent infections received antibiotics without a repeat transplant; three received fidaxomicin and one, metronidazole. Two underwent a successful repeat transplant. One patient had multiple treatments, including a course of fidaxomicin. This patient experienced another recurrence that was successfully treated with a second transplant.

Six of these seven patients experienced a clinical cure, bringing the secondary cure rate of the entire cohort to 97%.

There were nine serious adverse events (23%), most of which occurred during or shortly after the transplant procedure. This included the single death; four hospitalizations (one related to the transplant); and four transplant-related events.

The patient who died had an uncomplicated transplant, but within an hour started to feel nauseated and regurgitated the fecal material. “This didn’t appear to be severe,” Dr. van Beurden said. “But within a week, pneumonia developed and the patient died despite antibiotic treatment.”

She added that this patient was “medically fragile,” with a swallowing disorder that required a percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy feeding tube.

Of the other four patients with transplant complications:

• One, following an uncomplicated transplant, was discharged and ate a large meal, then shortly after vomited food and donor feces.

• One experienced abdominal cramping during the procedure, which was immediately stopped. When the cramping subsided, the procedure was completed. However, within a few hours the cramping recurred, along with diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting of fecal material.

• One patient was “very stressed and anxious” during the procedure and regurgitated a mix of gastric juices and donor feces. The infusion tube was immediately removed. The patient was discharged after being symptom-free for 3 hours, but vomited fecal material on the way home.

• One patient experienced nausea during the transplant, which was immediately stopped with tube removal. Upon removal, the patient regurgitated donor material. Nausea shortly resolved.

During the discussion period, Dr. van Beurden fielded a question about duodenal administration rather than delivering the donor feces colonoscopically. She said that decision was made because the duodenal tube doesn’t require anesthesia, and because many of the patients had severely inflamed colons. However, the hospital’s experience with complications did help refine its transplant protocol, she said.

• Colonoscopic administration is mandatory for any patient with a swallowing disorder.

• A smaller volume of feces is now infused.

• Donor material is infused very slowly and immediately discontinued if there is any nausea, cramping, or regurgitation.

• There is no eating or drinking for at least 1 hour after the transplant.

• To minimize the risk of recurrent C. difficile, patients should have no nonessential antibiotic treatment within the first month after transplant.

She had no financial disclosures.

On Twitter @Alz_Gal


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