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Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2013 Jan;19(1):194-204. doi: 10.1002/ibd.22964.

Clostridium difficile infection in the inflammatory bowel disease patient.

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Section of Gastroenterology, Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts 02118-2338, USA.


Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) has been increasing in frequency and severity in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Population based and single center studies have shown worse clinical outcomes in concomitant CDI and IBD, with several reporting longer length of hospital stay, higher colectomy rates and increased mortality. Clinically, CDI may be difficult to distinguish from an IBD flare and may range from an asymptomatic carrier state to severe life threatening colitis. The traditional risk factors for CDI have included hospitalization, antibiotic use, older age and severe co-morbid disease but IBD patients have several distinct characteristics including younger age, community acquisition, lack of antibiotic exposure, colonic IBD and steroid use. CDI can occur in the small bowel and specifically in ulcerative colitis patients who have had a colectomy and an ileal pouch anal anastomosis. PCR based assays and combination Elisa algorithms have improved the sensitivity and specificity of testing, though in IBD patients have raised clinical questions about how to best manage diarrhea in the setting of possible C. difficile colonization. Treatment modalities for CDI have not been examined in randomized clinical trials in the IBD population. Newer antibiotics, immunotherapy and fecal microbiota transplantation may alter current treatment strategies. This review will focus on the unique epidemiology of CDI in IBD patients, detail clinical disease states, and provide updated diagnostic strategies, prevention and treatment options.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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