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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2001 Aug;7(8):453-7.

Extra-intestinal infections caused by Clostridium difficile.

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Department of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, Madrid, Spain.


The objective of this paper was to investigate the incidence of extra-intestinal infections caused by Clostridium difficile. During a 10-year period, the microbiology laboratory of our institution isolated 2034 isolates of C. difficile. Of the 2034 isolates, 21 (1.08%) were obtained from extra-intestinal sources. This represents an incidence of extra-intestinal isolation of four cases per 100 000 admissions. We were able to review the records of 17 patients for our study. The isolates in 12 patients were obtained from structures or fluids anatomically close to the colon and included the following infections: peritonitis in five cases (three primary and two secondary), intra-abdominal abscesses in three patients and abdominal wound infections in four cases. The infections in the other five patients were not in the anatomic vicinity of the colon. They included one case with a brain abscess, two episodes of bacteremia and two cases of foot infections (one chronic osteomyelitis). In all but one case, C. difficile isolation was obtained as part of a polymicrobial flora. The isolates were frequently non-toxigenic and the extra-intestinal infections occurred without concomitant diarrhea or prior anti-microbial therapy. Out of the 17 patients, eight died and nine survived. Death could not be directly attributed to C. difficile in any of the cases. The isolation of C. difficile outside the intestinal tract is very uncommon. Its clinical significance should be interpreted with caution.

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