Treating Clostridioides difficile infection with fecal microbiota transplantation is associated with a lower risk of bloodstream infection and recurrence than treatment with antibiotics, new research has found.
A paper published in Annals of Internal Medicine presents outcomes of a prospective cohort study in 290 inpatients with recurrent C. difficile infection, 109 of whom were treated with fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT); the remainder were treated with antibiotics including metronidazole, vancomycin, and fidaxomicin.
While the FMT group had a higher mean number of previous C. difficile infections than the antibiotics group (2.82 vs. 1.23, respectively), a sustained cure was achieved in 97% of the FMT group, compared with 38% in the antibiotics group.
Blood cultures were done if patients developed a temperature above 30° C or showed symptoms that might be attributable to sepsis. Bloodstream infections were diagnosed in 5% (5 patients) of those treated with FMT, and 22% (40 patients) in the antibiotics group.
The patients in the FMT group with bloodstream infections all had bacterial infections – one of which was polymicrobial – and there were no cases of fungal bloodstream infections. In the antibiotics group, 28 patients (15%) had bacterial bloodstream infections – 11 of which were polymicrobial – and 12 (7%) had fungal bloodstream infections.
Bloodstream infections were particularly evident among the 11 patients whose C. difficile infection was treated with fidaxomicin, 4 of whom developed a bloodstream infection.
Overall, 27% of patients died during the 90-day follow-up, with 7% dying because of bloodstream infections, all of whom were in the antibiotic-treated cohort. Three patients in the FMT group died because of overwhelming C. difficile infection, compared with 12 in the antibiotic cohort.
Nearly three-quarters of deaths occurred within 30 days of the end of treatment; 5 of these deaths were in the FMT group, and 53 were in the antibiotics group.
“These findings suggest that the longer 90-day [overall survival] of patients in the FMT group is attributable to cure of [C. difficile infection] leading to an improvement in clinical condition,” wrote, from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome, and coauthors.
The 90-day overall survival rate was 92% in the FMT group and 61% in the antibiotic group. Patients treated with FMT also showed significantly shorter mean duration of hospital stay at 13.3 days, compared with 29.7 days in patients treated with antibiotics.
The authors noted the results should be interpreted with caution because of baseline differences between the two groups that were not entirely accounted for by using propensity matching. However, even in the propensity-matched cohort of 57 patients from each group, there was still a significantly higher overall survival at 90 days among patients treated with FMT.
One author declared grants from the pharmaceutical sector outside the submitted work. No funding or other conflicts of interest were reported.
SOURCE: Ianiro G et al. Ann Intern Med. 2019 Nov 4. doi: 10.7326/M18-3635.
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