Clinical question: Does fecal microbiotia transplantation (FMT) effectively treat patients with recurrent Clostridium difficile infection (CDI)?
Background: Patients with initial CDI have increased rates of recurrence (15%–30%), with variable success noted in treatment of recurrent disease. Increased interest in the use of FMT as a treatment strategy for CDI has led to various studies evaluating its efficacy.
Study design: Systematic review.
Setting: Multiple settings from studies obtained from MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, and ClinicalTrials.gov.
Synopsis: Literature search and review yielded a total of 35 included articles for analysis, mostly case-series studies (28), with only two randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Primary outcome was defined as symptom resolution, with a secondary outcome of recurrence. Although studies included assessed FMT as treatment for initial, recurrent, and refractory CDI, the majority of the evidence was focused on recurrent CDI. Among the studies analyzed, FMT was found to have a substantial effect on primary outcome of symptom resolution (85% of cases) among all pooled studies for recurrent CDI.
Although this review provided evidence suggestive of the efficacy of FMT in recurrent CDI, the paucity of RCT data was well documented and noted as a limitation in providing high-quality recommendations on FMT as a treatment option. Further high-quality research is recommended, and hospitalists caring for patients with recurrent CDI should be wary of treatment with FMT based on these data alone.
Bottom line: Studies evaluating FMT as a treatment option for recurrent CDI demonstrate significant benefit in symptom resolution, but further high-quality research is needed.
Citation: Drekonja D, Reich J, Gezahegn S, et al. Fecal microbiota transplantation for Clostridium difficile infection: a systematic review of the evidence. Ann Intern Med. 2015;162:630-638. doi:10.7326/M14-2693.