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The ‘ins and outs’ of faecal microbiota transplant for recurrent <i>Clostridium difficile</i> diarrhoea at Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa

S Lee
K Drennan
G Simons
A Hepple
K Karlsson
W Lowman
P.C. Gaylard
L McNamara
J Fabian


Background. Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhoea (CDAD) is a potentially life-threatening condition that is becoming increasingly common. A persistent burden of this infectious illness has been demonstrated over the past 4 years at Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre (WDGMC), Johannesburg, South Africa, through implementation of active surveillance of hospital-acquired infections as part of the infection prevention and control programme. Oral treatment with metronidazole or vancomycin is recommended, but there is a major problem with symptomatic recurrence after treatment. Replacement of normal flora by the administration of donor stool through colonoscopy or nasogastric/duodenal routes is becoming increasingly popular.

Objectives. To identify risk factors for the development of CDAD in patients referred for faecal microbiota transplant (FMT) and evaluate the safety of administration of donor stool as an outpatient procedure, including via the nasogastric route.

Methods. A retrospective record review of patients with recurrent CDAD referred for FMT at WDGMC between 1 January 2012 and 31 December 2016 was conducted.

Results. Twenty-seven patients were identified, all of whom fulfilled the criteria for recurrent CDAD. One-third were aged >65 years, and the majority were female. The most common risk factors were prior exposure to antibiotics or proton-pump inhibitors and underlying inflammatory bowel disease. Three procedures were carried out as inpatients and 24 in the outpatient gastroenterology unit. At 4-week follow-up, all patients reported clinical resolution of their diarrhoea after a single treatment and there were no recurrences. The FMT procedure was associated with no morbidity (with particular reference to the risk of aspiration when administered via the nasogastric route) or mortality.

Conclusions. This case series confirms that FMT is a safe and effective therapy for recurrent CDAD. In most cases it can be administered via the nasogastric route in the outpatient department. We propose that the recently published South African Gastroenterology Society guidelines be reviewed with regard to recommendations for the route of administration of FMT and hospital admission. Meticulous prescription practice by clinicians practising in hospitals and outpatient settings, with particular attention to antimicrobials and chronic medication, is urgently required to prevent this debilitating and potentially life-threatening condition.