Treating serious intestinal ailments with human stool is still a niche therapy. While it seems like a rather weird concept, more evidence in support of this unusual treatment, known by various names, such as stool transplant, fecal transplant or fecal bacteriotherapy, continues to be presented.
According to a study, funded by Henry Ford Hospital, the results of which were presented Friday at the annual Infectious Diseases Society of America meeting in San Diego, using donated human stool to treat the deadly and contagious Clostridium difficile infection is safe and highly effective.
Before going into the study details, here's what fecal transplantation means...
Clostridium difficile is a deadly bacteria present in everyone's intestine but in small numbers, and is kept 'under control' by the beneficial bacteria in our digestive tracts. But when we are taking antibiotics, many of the beneficial bacteria in our intestines are killed, paving way for Clostridium difficile to multiply in high numbers, causing infection.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, C. difficile infections are linked to 14,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. It is estimated that the infections cost at least $1 billion in extra health care costs annually.
Fecal transplantation involves taking stool from a healthy person, diluting it with water and transferring it into the infected patient's intestine.
There are a number of ways to perform this procedure like, nasogastric tube, nasojejunal tube, upper tract endoscopy, colonoscopy or retention enema.
In the Henry Ford Hospital study, researchers evaluated 49 patients who contracted Clostridium difficile, and treated them with donated stool from a healthy family member, either through a nasogastric tube or colonscopy on an outpatient or inpatient basis.
The study produced striking results - with 43 of the 49 patients fully recovering with no side effects. Four patients died of causes unrelated to Clostridium difficile, one patient underwent intestinal surgery and one had no improvement.
Lead author of the study, Mayur Ramesh noted, "Patients who receive treatment through a nasogastric tube don't taste or smell the stool mixture as it's administered. Patients often resume their diet within a couple hours and are feeling better within 24 hours."
by RTT Staff Writer
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