Applied Evidence

It’s time to rethink your approach to C diff infection

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What about surgical intervention?

In severe cases of CDI, surgery may be necessary and can reduce mortality.32 The surgical procedure with the strongest recommendation in the IDSA guidelines is the subtotal colectomy, though the diverting loop ileostomy is an alternative option.11 Patients who may benefit from surgery include those with a WBC count ≥ 25,000; lactate > 5 mmol/L11; altered mental status; megacolon; perforation of the colon; acute abdomen on physical examination; or septic shock due to CDI.33 Although surgery can be beneficial, the mortality rate remains high for those with CDI who undergo colectomy.33

Reserve bezlotoxumab for prevention of recurrence

Bezlotoxumab, a human monoclonal immunoglobulin GI/kappa antibody, was approved by the FDA in 2016 for the prevention of recurrent CDI. Its mechanism of action is to bind and neutralize C difficile toxin B. It was approved as a single infusion for adults who are receiving active antibiotic therapy for CDI and are considered to be at high risk for recurrence.34

Fecal microbiota transplantation has been shown to be highly effective in 5 randomized clinical trials, with C difficile infection cure rates between 85% and 94%.

This approval was based on 2 trials of more than 2500 patients, in which participants received bezlotoxumab or placebo while receiving treatment for primary or recurrent CDI. The primary outcome of these studies was recurrent infection within 12 weeks after infusion, which was significantly lower for bezlotoxumab in both studies: 17% vs 28% (P < 0.001) in one trial and 16% vs 26% (P < 0.001) in the other trial.35

Bezlotoxumab should only be used as an adjunct to prevent recurrence.32 There is no recommendation for or against bezlotoxumab in the IDSA guidelines because of the recent date of the drug’s approval. Its frequency of use will likely depend on the number of patients who meet criteria as high risk for recurrence and its estimated cost of $4560 per dose.34,36


CASE 1: In light of Ms. O’s recent completion of a course of clindamycin and unremarkable lab work, she should be treated for mild-to-moderate CDI. She has no comorbid conditions to warrant fidaxomicin, and thus vancomycin (capsules or oral solution) would be the best treatment option. Ms. O is started on vancomycin PO 125 mg qid for 10 days. She is also advised to discontinue loperamide as soon as possible, based on poor outcomes data seen with the use of antimotility agents in CDI.37

Continue to: CASE 2

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