Treatment of Clostridium difficile infection

Clin Infect Dis. 2008 Jan 15;46 Suppl 1:S32-42. doi: 10.1086/521860.


Recent outbreaks of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) in North America have been due to a more virulent, possibly more resistant strain that causes more-severe disease, making prompt recognition of cases and optimal management of infection essential for a successful therapeutic outcome. Treatment algorithms are presented to help guide the management of patients with CDI. Metronidazole has been recommended as initial therapy since the late 1990s and continues to be the first choice for all but seriously ill patients and those with complicated or fulminant infections or multiple recurrences of CDI, for whom vancomycin is recommended. Other options for recurrent CDI, such as probiotics and currently available anion-exchange resins, have limited efficacy and are potentially harmful. Intravenous immunoglobulin may benefit patients with refractory, recurrent, or severe disease, but no controlled data are available. Two antimicrobials available in the United States for other indications, nitazoxanide and rifaximin, have been used successfully for CDI treatment but, like metronidazole, lack United States Food and Drug Administration approval for this indication. Experimental treatments currently in clinical development include a toxin-binding polymer, tolevamer; 2 poorly absorbed antimicrobials, OPT-80 (formerly known as Difimicin) and ramoplanin; monoclonal antibodies; and a C. difficile vaccine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Clostridioides difficile / genetics
  • Clostridioides difficile / pathogenicity*
  • Disease Management
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / diagnosis
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / drug therapy*
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / epidemiology
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Metronidazole / therapeutic use
  • North America
  • Recurrence
  • Therapies, Investigational
  • Vancomycin / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Metronidazole
  • Vancomycin