A evaluation of faecal transplant as an accepted remedy for recurrent C difficile an infection and a possible therapy for different well being circumstances


The composition and variety of the intestine microbiota seem intently linked to well being and illness, and are considered diminished by fashionable Western life, together with antibiotic use. Faecal transplant is being explored as a means of modulating intestine microbiota to enhance many well being circumstances, notably acute inflammatory and infectious illnesses, and is now an accepted therapy for recurrent C difficile an infection. This article describes faecal transplant and its makes use of, the proof behind it, and the beneficial finest follow for utilizing it to deal with C difficile and different illnesses.

Citation: Dix A (2022) Using faecal transplant to deal with C difficile an infection and different illnesses. Nursing Times [online]; 118: 9.

Author: Ann Dix is scientific editor, Nursing Times.

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This article was supported with recommendation from the Infection Prevention Society



Humans have trillions of symbiotic microorganisms dwelling in and on the physique, identified collectively as microbiota. Interest on this wealthy microbial group is rising, as its composition and variety look like intently linked to well being and illness (Wang et al, 2017). Most human illnesses affecting Westernised international locations are related to disruption (dysbiosis) and lack of microbial variety within the intestine microbiota (Box 1), and modulating intestine microbiota is being explored as a attainable therapeutic route for a lot of well being circumstances (Mosca et al, 2016).

Box 1. Gut microbiota

The microbiota of the intestine performs an vital position within the physique’s immune response, metabolism and digestion. It additionally has a major impact on the nervous system, with research in mice exhibiting that eradicating intestine microbiota induces irregular behaviour. The composition and variety of intestine microbiota are considered diminished by fashionable Western life, together with antibiotic use. Disruption of intestine microbiota has been linked to a variety of illnesses, together with inflammatory bowel illness, diabetes, Parkinson’s illness, a number of sclerosis and autism.

Source: Ghaisas et al (2016)

One established technique nurses could encounter of their follow is faecal transplant – also called faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) (Box 2). This entails taking a manipulated pattern of complete faeces from a wholesome donor and transplanting it into the intestine of an individual with illness related to disrupted intestine microbiota to revive the stability of intestine microbes (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2014).

Box 2. Faecal transplant: an historic artwork

Faecal transplant is assumed to have its origins in historic Chinese drugs (Nejadghaderi et al, 2021; Zhang et al, 2012), and first made its means into medical literature in 1958 (Eiseman et al, 1958). There was renewed curiosity in faecal transplant within the late Eighties, when it was discovered to be helpful for treating a number of circumstances, together with irritable bowel syndrome. However, it was solely in 2013 that the primary randomised managed trial for faecal transplant and C difficile an infection was revealed; it confirmed that faecal transplant labored higher than normal antibiotics and placebo – to the extent that the trial was halted for moral causes (van Nood et al, 2013). There has since been an upsurge of curiosity within the method, resulting in its institution as a protected and efficient therapy possibility for recurrent C difficile infections which have failed to reply to antibiotics and different therapies, and its use in analysis for different illnesses.

Evidence about FMT

FMT has gained momentum as a possible therapy for acute inflammatory and infectious illnesses. It can also be an accepted and efficient therapy for recurrent or refractory an infection with C difficile (NICE, 2022; NICE, 2021; Mullish et al, 2018) (Box 3). Evidence can also be rising for different functions, together with therapy of inflammatory bowel illnesses (Crohn’s illness and ulcerative colitis), graft-versus-host illness, neuropsychiatric illnesses and metabolic syndrome (Davidovics et al, 2019; Mullish et al, 2018).

Box 3. C difficile an infection

The microorganism C difficile is a commensal bacterium that lives harmlessly within the intestine of round 5% of wholesome folks (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2014). However, if the stability of the intestine microbiota is disrupted (for instance, by way of use of broad-spectrum antibiotics or immunosuppressive brokers), the micriobiota can develop to unusually excessive ranges, producing toxins that harm the bowel and trigger diarrhoea and related signs. C difficile an infection primarily impacts frail older folks and folks in hospital and residential care; it’s a doubtlessly severe and deadly situation that’s extremely transmissible. This makes it “one of many main causes of hospital-acquired an infection, attributing to substantial morbidity, mortality, and healthcare value” (Sandhu and Chopra, 2021).

Firstline therapy is rehydration and antibiotic remedy (NICE, 2021; NICE, 2014) however, though that is usually efficient, an infection recurs in round 25% of sufferers, with some experiencing repeat infections (Mullish et al, 2018). Recurrent C difficile will be onerous to outline, however Wilcox (2013) described it because the recurrence of diarrhoea inside 30 days of a earlier C difficile an infection and optimistic C difficile toxin take a look at, and said that the danger of one other an infection will increase to 45-60% after the primary recurrence.

Treating recurrent episodes of C difficile will be troublesome as a result of normal antibiotic remedy turns into much less efficient with every recurrence (van Nood et al, 2013). This is likely to be partly as a result of repeated antibiotic use may cause persistent disruption of the intestine microbiota, however different proposed mechanisms embrace the persistence of C difficile spores and diminished antibody response to C difficile toxins (van Nood et al, 2013). Transplanting faeces from a wholesome donor to revive wholesome intestine micro organism could, due to this fact, be a more-effective therapy possibility.

A scientific evaluation and meta-analysis by Baunwall et al (2020) concluded that FMT is protected and efficient for adults with recurrent C difficile an infection, usually reaching treatment charges approaching 90% after one or two faecal transplants. This is supported by real-world information from Kelly et al (2021), which helps the usage of FMT in extreme or refractory circumstances. There can also be proof that FMT for recurrent C difficile an infection compares favourably with normal antibiotic therapy (NICE 2022; Baunwall et al, 2020; van Nood et al, 2013).

More analysis is required into:

Optimal mode of FMT administration and preparation;
Dosage and what number of transplants are wanted per therapy;
Choice of donor (Mullish et al, 2018; Moayyedi et al, 2017; NICE, 2014).

However, Baunwall et al (2020) concluded that repeat FMT by lower-gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy was superior to different administration strategies.

Lack of long-term security information and rules on the usage of FMT in contrast with medicines (NICE, 2021) means good follow-up information is important to analyze the long-term penalties of FMT, together with how lengthy the advantages final and whether or not there are any unintentional opposed results, corresponding to transmission of probably dangerous microbiotal traits (Mullish et al, 2018; Cammarota et al, 2017).

Another proof hole is round the usage of FMT in youngsters (NICE, 2021; Davidovics, 2019), as recurrent or extreme C difficile an infection in youngsters is an rising downside, and the intestine microbial profile of adolescents and younger youngsters is distinct from that of adults (Davidovics, 2019).

Crucially, extra dependable information can also be wanted on FMT for non-C difficile functions. However, research counsel that FMT might, doubtlessly, be an efficient therapy for mild-to-moderate ulcerative colitis and seems protected regardless of the usage of immunosuppressive remedy; it additionally reveals promise for treating practical bowel issues (Mullish et al, 2018).

There is proof that FMT is appropriate to sufferers; for instance, an evaluation of sufferers with lively ulcerative colitis discovered it to be “a protected and well-tolerated process, with good acceptability” (Sood et al, 2020). NICE (2014) highlighted that many sufferers receiving FMT are usually extraordinarily sick and haven’t responded to plain therapies.

Selection of C difficile sufferers

NICE’s (2021) antimicrobial prescribing pointers for C difficile advocate practitioners “take into account a faecal microbiota transplant for a recurrent episode of C difficile an infection in adults who’ve had two or extra earlier episodes”. New NICE pointers on FMT for recurrent C difficile an infection in draft format on the time of writing, are anticipated to advocate that FMT must be thought of as a cost-saving possibility for these sufferers (NICE, 2022). In addition, the UK Health Security Agency is updating its 2013 pointers on the administration of C difficile an infection to broadly align with the brand new NICE suggestions, with its draft pointers at the moment out for session (UK Health Security Agency, 2022).

The British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) and Healthcare Infection Society (HIS) have produced evidence-based joint pointers on utilizing FMT to deal with recurrent and refractory C difficile in adults, in addition to for potential non-C difficile indications in analysis settings. Those pointers advocate the next:

Offering FMT to sufferers with C difficile an infection who’ve had two or extra recurrences, or who’ve had one recurrence and have danger elements for additional recurrence;
Considering FMT for sufferers with recurrent C difficile solely after decision of an episode of C difficile handled with applicable microbials for at the least 10 days;
Considering prolonged/pulsed therapy with the antibiotics vancomycin and/or fidaxomicin earlier than considering FMT for recurrent C difficile;
Considering FMT in circumstances of refractory C difficile;
Contemplating therapy with medicines corresponding to fidaxomicin and bezlotoxumab, that are related to diminished danger of recurrence, earlier than contemplating FMT for circumstances of extreme or sophisticated C difficile;
Offering FMT a second time if it fails initially (Mullish et al, 2018).

The pointers warn that FMT must be averted in sufferers with anaphylactic meals allergy and must be supplied “with warning” to sufferers with decompensated continual liver illness or who’re immunocompromised (Mullish et al, 2018).

Selection of donors

BSG/HIS pointers advocate contemplating folks as potential FMT donors provided that they’re 18-60 years outdated and have a physique mass index of 18-30kg/m2 (Mullish et al, 2018). Donors will be associated or unrelated to the affected person however, “the place attainable, FMT is finest sourced from a centralised stool financial institution from a wholesome, unrelated donor” (Mullish et al, 2018). The Microbiome Treatment Centre on the University of Birmingham is the primary Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency-licensed facility within the UK to supply FTM for scientific trials and therapy of recurrent and refractory C difficile an infection. Most hospitals offering FTM will entry this stool financial institution except they’re giant sufficient to have their very own.

The BSG and HIS pointers (Mullish et al, 2018) state that every one donors have to be examined for bacterial and parasitic infections, be freed from well being issues and lead a wholesome life-style. Mandatory screening, which must be repeated frequently, consists of:

Screening by questionnaire and private interview to ascertain danger elements for transmissible illnesses (corresponding to HIV and viral hepatitis) and elements influencing intestine microbiota;
Screening blood and stool for pathogens.

Patients who’re immunosuppressed and liable to extreme an infection if uncovered to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) or cytomegalovirus (CMV) ought to solely obtain FMT from donors who take a look at unfavorable for EBV and CMV (Mullish et al, 2018).

The Covid-19 pandemic has additionally led to the event of recent, internationally agreed pointers for the screening of donors and recipients as a way to keep away from transmission of the virus (Box 4).

Box 4. FMT and the Covid-19 pandemic

Concerns had been raised over the attainable impression of the Covid-19 pandemic on FMT security and effectivity; stringent screening protocols for donors and recipients are wanted to keep away from transmitting the virus (Kazemian et al, 2021). FMT centres and stool banks have needed to adapt to make sure dependable affected person entry to FMT whereas sustaining the security and high quality of procedures (Ianiro et al, 2020). The institution of internationally agreed donor-screening protocols (Ianiro et al, 2020) has been essential to this and improvement of a validated assay for detecting SARS-CoV-2 in stool have “allowed resumption of donor screening and FMT providers within the Covid-19 period” (Quraishi et al, 2021).

Biliński et al (2022) instructed, on the proof of two case research, that “FMT seems protected and of comparable efficacy in treating recurrent [C difficile infection] in sufferers with coexisting Covid-19”. Furthermore, the interaction between intestine microbial composition and performance with Covid-19 improvement means FMT can also be being explored as a attainable therapeutic intervention for Covid-19 alongside normal therapy to scale back the danger of illness development (Biliński et al, 2022; Kazemian et al, 2021).

FMT = faecal microbial transplant

Preparing and administering FMT

Donor stools must be ready in laboratory circumstances to a consistency permitting for simple infusion. Usually, the stool is blended with saline or water in answer, earlier than being blended and filtered (Davidovics, 2019). BSG/HIS pointers advocate:

Processing donor stool inside six hours of defecation;
Using ≥50g of stool in every FMT preparation;
Considering 0.9% saline as an applicable diluent;
Mixing the stool with the diluent at a ratio of 1:5, including a cryoprotectant corresponding to glycerol for frozen FMT;
Storing frozen FMT materials at -80°C for a most of six months (Mullish et al, 2018).

BSG/HIS pointers state that FMT will be carried out on an outpatient foundation except sufferers want hospitalisation and “could also be administered contemporary instantly after preparation, or ready prematurely, saved in a freezer and thawed when required”. The transplant will be administered, if clinically applicable, in one in every of 3 ways:

Upper GI tract – nasogastric, nasoduodenal or nasojejunal tube, upper-GI endoscope or everlasting feeding-tube;
Lower GI tract – colonoscopy or versatile sigmoidoscopy or, the place these aren’t attainable, by FMT enema;
Oral capsules – sufferers must be given the choice of those, the place obtainable, following an ordinary protocol, though extra proof relating to optimum dosing and formulation is required (Mullish et al, 2018).

The following are beneficial:

For lower-GI administration, a bowel lavage earlier than transplantation to scale back the C difficile load within the intestines – this may also be thought of for upper-GI routes;
For upper-GI administration, take into account a proton pump inhibitor the night earlier than, and on the morning of, supply;
Following lower-GI supply, take into account a single dose of loperamide or different antimotility medicine (Mullish et al, 2018).

Additional antibiotics for C difficile are beneficial for at the least 72 hours earlier than the process, with a minimal washout interval of 24 hours between the final dose of antibiotic and FMT.

Monitoring, administration and attainable issues

If the affected person responds effectively, signs usually resolve inside 2-3 days, and the process is mostly thought of profitable if signs don’t recur inside 2-3 months put up process (Davidovics, 2019). Patients must be warned about short-term opposed results – notably, attainable self-limiting GI signs – and be suggested that severe opposed results are uncommon (Mullish et al, 2018).

Short-term administration of the affected person relies on the administration technique and may principally observe current protocols. After enteral tube administration, the tube must be eliminated and oral water given after half-hour (Mullish et al, 2018). As FMT remains to be comparatively novel, affected person follow-up is beneficial for at the least eight weeks to completely assess efficacy and opposed occasions (Mullish et al, 2018).

Generally, FMT is protected and effectively tolerated, with few and principally gentle opposed occasions (Mullish et al, 2018; Cammarota et al, 2017). The most typical issues embrace bloating, diarrhoea, stomach ache, constipation and transient fever (Davidovics, 2019). Serious issues are uncommon however effectively documented, and plenty of look like circuitously brought on by the FMT (Mullish et al, 2018). Procedural issues throughout administration of FMT have principally occurred with colonoscopy, together with gentle nausea and vomiting after sedation, minor mucosal tears and microperforation (Mullish et al, 2018).

There is sweet proof that FMT is comparatively protected in sufferers who’re immunocompromised (Davidovics, 2019; Mullish et al, 2018). However, two such sufferers within the US contracted multidrug-resistant an infection from the faeces of a single donor, which induced one affected person to die (US Food and Drug Administration, 2019). This highlights the necessity for warning and for practitioners to maintain abreast of UK security recommendation.

A task for nurses

FMT for C difficile normally falls underneath the remit of gastroenterology and an infection management departments, and a donor financial institution will most frequently be used. Nurses could also be concerned to various levels in affected person evaluation, FMT administration and the care of FMT sufferers. As use of FMT turns into extra widespread, there might be the potential for nurses to tackle new specialist roles the place they handle the FMT course of from begin to end.

Moving ahead

The proof gaps talked about must be crammed – notably, the usage of FMT for non-C difficile functions, together with treating Covid-19 an infection (Box 4). A significant focus of future analysis can even be to refine FMT from donating complete faeces to more-targeted remedy involving outlined cocktails of micro organism to deal with specific issues in a person’s microbiota (Mullish et al, 2018). Another space ripe for exploration is completely different sorts of transplant (for instance, vaginal, pores and skin, oral and nasal) to revive wholesome microbiomes in numerous areas of the physique.


FMT has been established as a viable different to antibiotics for treating recurrent C difficile. However, however its obvious success, there may be a lot that’s nonetheless unknown about this remedy, together with its potential for treating different circumstances. More information can also be wanted on the long-term penalties of FMT, together with how lengthy the advantages final and whether or not there are any unintentional opposed results.

Key factors
Modulating the intestine microbiota is being explored as a therapeutic route to enhance many well being circumstances
Faecal transplant entails transferring wholesome stool into the gastrointestinal tract of the recipient, to assist restore the stability of intestine microbiota
The remedy holds promise for the therapy of acute inflammatory and infectious illnesses, in addition to different well being circumstances
Faecal transplant is an accepted remedy for recurrent C difficile an infection that has not responded to antibiotics and different therapies
Nurses could also be concerned in affected person evaluation, therapy administration and care of faecal transplant sufferers


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