The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center is using fecal transplants to treat a serious intestinal infection.
Dr. Razvan Arsenescu, medical director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinic at OSU, has been using a donor’s stool sample to relieve the effects caused by the infection.
The intestinal infection, called C. diff, causes severe diarrhea and fatigue in its victims.
Arsenescu said a golf ball-sized stool sample is taken from a healthy donor, diluted with saline and flushed through a scope, and covers the lining of the sick person’s colon with the stool, similar to a colonoscopy.
Fecal transplant patients typically feel better within days, and recent studies have shown up to a 95 percent cure rate, Arsenescu said.
Currently, patients only qualify for the treatment if they have failed two courses of antibiotics.
“This would be my first choice for a first-line treatment for carefully selected patients with C. diff, rather than a last resort,” Arsenescu said. “I hope that we can someday expand the use of fecal transplants to help patients with other autoimmune diseases, including diabetes, lupus, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, along with obesity. More research is needed, but the applications could be vast.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recurrent C. diff infections affect more than 337,000 people each year and are linked to 14,000 deaths.
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