… including (apparently) poop. In a recent article on the CBC.ca website, called “Don’t poo-poo technique: fecal transplant can cure superbug, doctors say” (follow the link at the end of the post to read the actual article) by ??, it was reported that doctors have performed several of these fecal transplants … I’m not sure how to react to this. It’s like part revulsion and part morbid curiosity and, like you, I proceeded to read on.
The treatment (the fecal transplantation) is used in cases of Clostridium difficile infection. C.difficile is a bacterium that infects the gut and causes diarrhea as well as other serious intestinal conditions including toxic megacolon which is a medical emergency. It is, unfortunately, the most common cause of acquired hospital infection in Canada (as well as the rest of the industrialized world). It is the type of bug that is opportunistic and when the normal flora of the intestine is disrupted by something like illness or antibiotics C. difficile can take advantage and colonize the gut leading to an acute illness.
“Clostridium difficile is a superbug that commonly spreads in hospital settings and has been linked to the deaths of at least 2,000 people in Quebec since 2003, as well as in other provinces.”
Problems begin to arise when you consider treatment. As far as I understand, the patient must discontinue using their current antibiotics and start an another (Metroidazole or Vancomycin) which is more specific to killing the bug. Even with treatment C. difficile infections can persist.
“The antibiotics sometimes wipe out the good bacteria but fail to completely kill the C. difficile – leaving enough of it that it later flourishes. “
Right – conventional treatments may not result in a complete cure and, up until now, I didn’t think there was an alternative type of treatment. How wrong I was! Some of the more scatologically inclined doctors in Scandinavia have been working on fecal transplants as a way to cure the infection. Not to be outdone the technique has found its way to the United States and now is even available in Canada.
“Calgary physician Dr. Tom Louie, head of infection control at Foothills Hospital, is one of the few physicians in Canada who treats patients with chronic C. difficile with fecal transplants, or fecal therapy. He has done 38 procedures to date. “
Call me crazy but before you volunteer you may want to look at the studies out there …
Studies that have been published show that more than 90 per cent of patients are cured through fecal transplants – most of them after just one treatment.
Interesting … there is nothing in pubmed, nor UpToDate and a Google search doesn’t turn up any scientific literature. There are passing comments made on the Clinical Infectious Diseases 1999;29:000 hotpage.
A recent discussion from the EIN Bulletin Board raised an option of “fecal transplants” that was claimed to have extremely good results, often with complete relief, within 24 hours, of diarrhea of months’ duration.
At a lecture at the German Anaerobe Society meeting held in Leipzig, Germany, Prof. Carl Eric Nord (Sweden) noted that they too have performed successful fecal implants to cure recurrent C. difficile diarrhea. They even maintain their own collection of total fecal flora and various components.
There was also an article published online, 21 November 2006 titled “Emerging Therapies in the Treatment of C. difficile-associated disease from The Annals of Pharmacotherapy (Vol. 40, No. 12, pp. 2164-2169.), which mentions fecal transplantation as a nonstandard strategy.
Hmmm … so maybe I’m going to wait until more studies have been done before I volunteer. Regardless it’s an interesting idea of how to treat a serious infection in a rather non-conventional way.
Read the CBC article here for more information …