Fecal transplant, anyone? Yes, this is a viable treatment.Fecal transplantation is used to treat an intestinal infection called Clostridium difficile or “c. diff.”
The clinical spectrum of C. difficile infection can vary from asymptomatic or mild diarrhea all the way to a life threatening inflammatory bowel condition. At times this colitis requires emergency surgery, with removal of the colon.
What is the treatment of c. diff? Initial antibiotic treatment for mild to moderate c. diff infection consists of metronidazole. More complicated or severe infections may require vancomycin.
What is the cure rate? Up to 90% have a clinical cure after initial treatment. However, the recurrence rate after an initial infection are 15 to 30%. The recurrence rate is up to 50% for patients with three occurrences of c. diff.
Why fecal transplant? It is thought that disruption in the micro-biome of the intestine can make patients more susceptible to recurrences of c. diff. So, to repopulate the intestine with a healthy, robust micro-biome has been shown to lead to success rates of up to 85% in those with recurrent infections.
How is this done? The fecal material is donated and is rigorously tested for infectious disease screening, similar to blood donor screening Most recently freeze-dried stool has been put into oral capsules and the patient swallows it.
How much does this cost? It can be expensive as most insurance providers do not cover this treatment. It is considered an experimental treatment as the long-term safety and effectiveness is unknown. More studies are needed.