C Diff Fecal Transplant Therapy – 7 Key Facts

C diff fecal transplant therapy is sometimes known as Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT). Because some people suffer chronic c difficile doctors are using a new therapy to dislodge the disruptive c diff from their intestine. Fecal matter from a family member is often sought so that the material entering their system is reflective of local stomach flora. This is then turned into a liquid slurry and inserted into the body to colonise the intestine.

How do fecal matter transplants work?

For most people this introduces a new balance in the intestine and restores the bacteria depleted by antibiotic treatment. This bacteria would in normal circumstances combat the c diff anyway. It is by no means clear as yet exactly how the cure takes place in specific biological terms – but the general theory that recolonizing the colon with healthy bacteria will reverse the c difficile seems to be true. Some research indicates that the reintroduction of Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes elements are part of the cure.

What is a Fecal Microbiota Transplant?

The c diff fecal transplant is inserted into the intestine in one of 4 ways. Via a duodenal tube, a rectal tube, a colonoscopy or possibly via special fecal tablets enclosed in a shell which dissolves in in the intestine . The colonoscopy is favoured as the whole of the colon can be recolonized and the extent of the infection can be clarified during the process. The cure may happen within hours or a few days.

Has the procedure been validated?

This is a not a new therapy, but it has been a rare one until the recent mushrooming of c difficile infections. It has been tested via clinical trials  and we link to information about those below. One of the major trials was extended to include those not receiving the therapy as it was felt to be unethical not to help them recover.

The FDA in the USA did seek to regulate the process and surround every procedure with extensive paperwork. They stepped back from this amidst a hail of protest from front-line doctors who were seeing sick people get well within days.

In late 2015 the BMJ carried an article from those supportive of the FMT treatment that nevertheless called for oversite of the procedure to help prevent cross infection of the patient with a condition new to them: They said:

“We have very rigorous screening protocols for donors to maximize safety. We check for any infections. We ask question about their weight and we won’t let them donate if they’re obese, or if they have colon cancer or polyps. If you do a fecal transplant at home, God knows who your donor is, what you’re transferring,” he said. Read More

Does c diff fecal transplant therapy work?

Success rates of 97% have been noted and those for whom it does not work are often those seeking a fecal transplant for ulcerative colitis. Overall a cure rate of 89% in 275 cases from a round the world has been noted. Initial research also suggest that a small minority who have further c diff infections have been reinfected from another source.

Who can have a stool transplant?

This process is usually a last resort treatment. It will not be the first thing offered with your first c difficile infection. You will also need to find a facility willing to do c diff fecal transplants. Use a search engine to look for ‘fecal microbiota transplant xxxxxxxx. (Insert name of your state or city instead of xxxxxx.)

Who can be a fecal transplant donor?

You will need to find a suitable donor, with family members preferred. You should note that their fecal matter will need to be tested and that much of the cost of the process – usually between $1500-2000 – relates to that testing. This is to ensure that they do not pass you another unhelpful infection. You should also note that heavily medicated people or recent users of antibiotics will not be suitable donors. A ‘fecal donor bank’ is also creating a resource for hospitals so that can can obtain pre-screened fecal matter for use in the procedure.

Is there a Fecal Transplant Pill?

Work is under way to discover the essential elements of the fecal donation that heal the c diff infection. This would then be used to create pills or highly specific targeted drugs that attack some aspect of the infection process – that could then bypass the need for the intrusive procedure. It is also believed that this type of therapy could help several other conditions and research on those continues.

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