Objectives: Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) has increased to epidemic proportions over the past 15 years, and recurrence rates of 30-65% with failure to respond to multiple courses of antimicrobials are common. The aim of this study was to report the efficacy of fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) in patients with recurrent CDI in five geographically disparate medical centers across the United States.
Methods: A multicenter long-term follow-up study was performed on the use of FMT for recurrent CDI. We were able to contact 77 of 94 eligible patients who had colonoscopic FMT for recurrent CDI ≥ 3 months before. Respondents completed a 36-item questionnaire via mail and/or phone that solicited pre-FMT, post-FMT, and donor data. Study outcomes included primary cure rate (resolution of symptoms without recurrence within 90 days of FMT) and secondary cure rate (resolution of symptoms after one further course of vancomycin with or without repeat FMT).
Results: Seventy-three percent of patients were women and the average age was 65 years. The long-term follow-up period ranged from 3 to 68 months between FMT and data collection (mean: 17 months). The majority of patients were living independently at the time of FMT; however, 40% were ill enough to be hospitalized, homebound, or living in a skilled nursing facility. Spouses and partners accounted for 60% of donors and 27% were either first-degree relatives or otherwise related to the patient. The average symptom duration before FMT was 11 months and patients had failed an average of five conventional antimicrobial regimens; nonetheless, 74% of patients had resolution of their diarrhea in ≤ 3 days. Diarrhea resolved in 82% and improved in 17% of patients within an average of 5 days after FMT. The primary cure rate was 91%. Seven patients either failed to respond or experienced early CDI recurrence (≤ 90 days) after FMT. Four of these patients were successfully treated with vancomycin with or without probiotics; two patients were treated unsuccessfully with vancomycin, but subsequent FMT was successful; one patient was not treated and died in hospice care of unclear cause. The secondary cure rate was 98%. All late recurrences of CDI occurred in the setting of antimicrobial therapy for treatment of infections unrelated to C. difficile. In all, 53% of patients stated they would have FMT as their preferred first treatment option if CDI were to recur. While no definite adverse effects of FMT were noted, two patients had improvement in a pre-existing medical condition and four patients developed diseases of potential interest after FMT.
Conclusions: FMT is a rational, durable, safe, and acceptable treatment option for patients with recurrent CDI.