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29 Mar 2014
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recently created guidelines on using the faecal transplants as a procedure to help treat recurrent Clostridium difficile infections in patients. Healthcare professionals can visit the Professionals site to read more about the pathogenic bacteria Clostridium difficile.
Clostridium difficile, known as C.diff is a type of bacteria present in approximately one third of the population without causing a problem, yet when the levels of C.diff bacteria become unbalanced (often caused by a hospital stay), an infection occurs triggering symptoms of diarrhoea, abdominal pain and vomiting. The infection is generally mild, but can have very serious implications for those of a weaker disposition such as the elderly. Antibiotics are currently typically used to treat infections but unfortunately for around 1 in 4 people, the infection returns.
The faecal transplant process involves placing healthy faeces from donors (usually family members) into the gut of patients suffering from the C.diff infection, with the aim of rebalancing the levels of beneficial gut flora and helping to prevent further infection. NICE analysed seven different studies using the faecal transplant procedure, which involved a total of 558 people. The studies discovered that almost all of the patients taking part in the studies were cured of the C.diff infection.
Professor Bruce Campbell of the Interventional Procedures Advisory Committee states, "It doesn't sound pleasant, but the evidence shows that it is safe and effective for four in five people with C.diff infections".
We think this is a really interesting development in the continuing discovery of how bacteria can be used positively to improve our health. Dr Alisdair MacConnachie from the Gartnavel General Hospital in Glasgow is "delighted" that NICE have recognised the potential benefits of faecal transplants and states, "Faecal microbiota transplant is a relatively new procedure so I welcome this NICE guidance, which provides clear advice to doctors". He also recognises that that process may experience 'aesthetic' problems and may be perceived as being deeply unpleasant, but acknowledges that "if you're a patient who has had multiple recurrences of C.diff, your perception of what makes you squeamish is probably different to people who haven't".
The microorganism Saccharomyces boulardii has been recognised internationally, by scientific bodies and the community 'C diff support' for helping to relieve the symptoms of infections such as C.diff, including occasional diarrhoea, abdominal cramps etc. Healthcare practitioners might be interested in the extensive clinical research that Saccharomyces boulardii has undergone. The strain is used widely in many European countries, as well as the US. It can be found in the OptiBac 'Saccharomyces boulardii' product.
Healthcare practitioners might be interested in the article I wrote about faecal transplants and C. difficile a few months ago.
Image sources: www.minnesota.publicradio.com, www.blogs.ucl.ac.uk