Fecal transplantation

What is fecal transplantation?

Fecal transplantation, also called fecal microbiota transplantation, is a treatment used mostly for patients who have diarrhea associated with Clostridium difficile, also known as C. diff.

Patients with C. diff who have diarrhea are usually treated with antibiotics first. Fecal transplantation is used to treat patients whose diarrhea continued even after they were treated for it with antibiotics.

How is fecal transplantation performed at UI Health Care?

Healthy intestinal bacteria are placed into the patient’s diseased intestines during a colonoscopy.

Where does the healthy intestinal bacteria used in the transplantation come from?

In most cases, UI Health Care uses healthy bacteria provided by a nonprofit stool bank called OpenBiome. OpenBiome collects stool samples from healthy donors who have undergone rigorous screening before they can donate stool.

The bacteria in the stool sample is then specially prepared for use in a fecal transplantation procedure. That prepared healthy bacteria is delivered in a frozen pharmaceutical capsule to UI Hospitals & Clinics.

In some cases, we use healthy bacteria from a healthy donor’s stool sample after it has been rigorously screened.

Information for referring providers about fecal microbiota transplantation during COVID-19

OpenBiome currently has a quarantine and shipping hold and is only able to provide preparations for use in emergency cases. You may refer a patient to UI Hospitals & Clinics for evaluation for fecal microbiota transplantation if confirming that your patient meets the following criteria:

  • The patient has been diagnosed with fulminant or life-threatening C. difficile infection not responsive to standard therapy and requires prompt intervention.

or

  • The patient has been diagnosed with recurrent or refractory C. difficile that is not fulminant or life threatening but there is a reasonable possibility of significant morbidity and mortality, and other treatment modalities are insufficient or carry a greater risk of harm.

OpenBiome will determine if your patient fits the criteria for emergency use. After UI Hospitals & Clinics receives approval from OpenBiome, we will schedule the patient for a fecal transplant.

Last reviewed: 
January 2021

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