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Am J Gastroenterol. 1998 Oct;93(10):1873-6.

Clostridium difficile colitis: factors influencing treatment failure and relapse--a prospective evaluation.

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Division of Gastroenterology and Infectious Diseases, Our Lady of Mercy University Medical Center and New York Medical College, Bronx 10466, USA.



The aim of this study was to identify patient related factors that may influence the treatment response and relapse following Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) colitis.


A total of 36 patients with C. difficile colitis were followed for 3 months. Age, sex, place of residence, severity of infection, treatment, underlying medical condition, and treatment were compared in patients who failed to respond to treatment in 14 days and in patients who relapsed after a successful treatment. Student's t test and Fisher's exact test were used to compare the groups. A p value of <0.05 was considered significant.


A low serum albumin (p=0.016) and continuation of systemic antibiotic treatment were found to be associated with refractoriness to treatment. Continuation or restarting of antibiotics after successful treatment increases the risk of relapse (p=0.003). The age, sex place of residence, underlying medical condition, and type of precipitating antibiotics had no effect on the treatment response and relapse. The severity of colitis and the type of therapy (metronidazole vs vancomycin) did not influence the treatment response or relapse.


Low serum albumin serves as a useful marker for patients who require prolonged treatment for C. difficile colitis. It is prudent to review the need for the continuation of systemic antibiotic treatment, as it adversely affects the treatment response and increases the risk of relapse.

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