Objective: There is currently uncertainty as to the best treatment for patients with recurrent episodes of Clostridium difficile disease (RCDD). Our objective was to evaluate the success of treatment strategies in a cohort of 163 RCDD patients.
Methods: Data were used from patients who had participated in the placebo arm in two national referral clinical trials evaluating a new combination treatment. Patients with active RCCD were enrolled, prescribed either vancomycin or metronidazole, and randomized to either the investigational biological or a placebo. All patients were observed for at least 2 months for a subsequent episode of RCCD.
Results: Of the 163 cases, 44.8% recurred. A tapering course of vancomycin resulted in significantly fewer recurrences (31%, p = 0.01), as did pulsed dosing of vancomycin (14.3%, p = 0.02). A trend (p = 0.09) for a lower recurrence frequency was observed for high-dose (> or =2 g/day) vancomycin and low-dose (< or =1 g/day) metronidazole. Vancomycin was significantly more effective in clearing C. difficile culture and/or toxin by the end of therapy than metronidazole (89% vs 59%, respectively; p < 0.001).
Conclusions: These data show that tapered or pulsed dosing regimens of vancomycin may result in a significantly better cure of RCDD. The persistence of C. difficile spores suggests that additional strategies to restore the normal colonic microflora may also be beneficial.