Systematic review with meta-analysis: the efficacy of faecal microbiota transplantation for the treatment of recurrent and refractory Clostridium difficile infection

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2017 Sep;46(5):479-493. doi: 10.1111/apt.14201. Epub 2017 Jul 14.


Background: Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is the commonest nosocomial cause of diarrhoea. Faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is an approved treatment for recurrent or refractory CDI but there is uncertainty about its use.

Aim: To evaluate the efficacy of FMT in treating recurrent and refractory CDI and investigate outcomes from modes of delivery and preparation.

Methods: A systematic review and meta-analysis was performed. MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, trial registers and conference proceedings were searched. Studies on FMT in recurrent and refractory CDI were included. The primary outcome was clinical resolution with subgroup analyses of modes of delivery and preparation. Random effects meta-analyses were used to combine data.

Results: Thirty seven studies were included; seven randomised controlled trials and 30 case series. FMT was more effective than vancomycin (RR: 0.23 95%CI 0.07-0.80) in resolving recurrent and refractory CDI. Clinical resolution across all studies was 92% (95%CI 89%-94%). A significant difference was observed between lower GI and upper GI delivery of FMT 95% (95%CI 92%-97%) vs 88% (95%CI 82%-94%) respectively (P=.02). There was no difference between fresh and frozen FMT 92% (95%CI 89%-95%) vs 93% (95%CI 87%-97%) respectively (P=.84). Administering consecutive courses of FMT following failure of first FMT resulted in an incremental effect. Donor screening was consistent but variability existed in recipient preparation and volume of FMT. Serious adverse events were uncommon.

Conclusion: Faecal microbiota transplantation is an effective treatment for recurrent and refractory Clostridium difficile infection, independent of preparation and route of delivery.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Clostridioides difficile / isolation & purification*
  • Clostridium Infections / therapy*
  • Cross Infection
  • Diarrhea / etiology
  • Fecal Microbiota Transplantation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vancomycin / therapeutic use


  • Vancomycin