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Geriatr Orthop Surg Rehabil. 2012 Dec;3(4):157-63. doi: 10.1177/2151458513479023.

Management and prevention of recurrent clostridium difficile infection in patients after total joint arthroplasty: a review.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is the most common infectious cause of nosocomial diarrhea in elderly patients, accounting for 15% to 25% of all cases of antibiotic-induced diarrhea in those patients. Virulent forms of this organism have developed, increasing the associated morbidity, mortality, and complication rates. The average patient undergoing total joint arthroplasty is at particular risk of CDI because of advanced age, the use of prophylactic antibiotic coverage in the perioperative period, multiple comorbid conditions, and length of hospital stay. In addition, patients who have had one CDI are at risk of another; the rate of recurrent CDI (RCDI) is 15% to 30%. To review the available information on RCDI, we conducted an extensive literature search, focusing on its epidemiology and the management strategies for its treatment and prevention. We found the management of RCDI is a controversial topic, with as yet no consensus regarding specific treatment guidelines. Several experienced clinicians have published suggested treatment algorithms, but they are based on anecdotal experience. With regard to the prevention of RCDI, the literature is scarce, and currently, the only effective strategies remain judicious use of perioperative antibiotics and appropriate implementation of infection control procedures. There are several vaccination medications that are currently being studied but are not yet ready for clinical use. We agree with the approach to management of RCDI that has been proposed in several articles, that is, on confirmation of a first recurrence of CDI by a stool toxin assay and clinical symptoms, a 14-day course of metronidazole or vancomycin; for a second recurrence, a tapered-pulsed course of vancomycin; and, for 3 or more recurrences, a repeat course of the tapered-pulsed vancomycin and adjunctive Saccharomyces boulardii or cholestyramine.


Clostridium difficile; arthroplasty; infection; recurrent

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