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Am J Gastroenterol. 2002 Jul;97(7):1769-75.

Breaking the cycle: treatment strategies for 163 cases of recurrent Clostridium difficile disease.

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Department of Medicinal Chemistry, School of Pharmacy, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.



There is currently uncertainty as to the best treatment for patients with recurrent episodes of Clostridium difficile disease (RCDD). Our objective was to evaluate the success of treatment strategies in a cohort of 163 RCDD patients.


Data were used from patients who had participated in the placebo arm in two national referral clinical trials evaluating a new combination treatment. Patients with active RCCD were enrolled, prescribed either vancomycin or metronidazole, and randomized to either the investigational biological or a placebo. All patients were observed for at least 2 months for a subsequent episode of RCCD.


Of the 163 cases, 44.8% recurred. A tapering course of vancomycin resulted in significantly fewer recurrences (31%, p = 0.01), as did pulsed dosing of vancomycin (14.3%, p = 0.02). A trend (p = 0.09) for a lower recurrence frequency was observed for high-dose (> or =2 g/day) vancomycin and low-dose (< or =1 g/day) metronidazole. Vancomycin was significantly more effective in clearing C. difficile culture and/or toxin by the end of therapy than metronidazole (89% vs 59%, respectively; p < 0.001).


These data show that tapered or pulsed dosing regimens of vancomycin may result in a significantly better cure of RCDD. The persistence of C. difficile spores suggests that additional strategies to restore the normal colonic microflora may also be beneficial.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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