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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 9

of 'Clostridium difficile infection in adults: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis'

Severe Clostridium difficile colitis.
Rubin MS, Bodenstein LE, Kent KC
Dis Colon Rectum. 1995;38(4):350.
PURPOSE: Reports of fatality related to Clostridium difficile colitis and a sharp increase in prevalence of this infection prompted a study of patients who develop a more aggressive form of this disease.
METHODS: Over 38 months, 710 patients at our institution developed C. difficile colitis. Twenty-one (3 percent) of these patients either required intensive care unit admission or died as a result of their infection. A retrospective, case-controlled study was undertaken to compare these patients, who were considered to have severe C. difficile colitis, with the remaining patients with milder disease.
RESULTS: Factors that predisposed to the development of severe C. difficile colitis included intercurrent malignancy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, immunosuppressive and antiperistaltic medications, renal failure, and administration of clindamycin (P<0.05 for all). Patients with severe C. difficile colitis were more likely to have abdominal pain, tenderness and distention, peritonitis, hemoconcentration (>5 points), hypoalbuminemia (<3 mg/dl), and elevated or suppressed white blood cell count (>25,000;<1,500; P<0.05 for all). These factors were used to create a scoringsystem that could distinguish between patients with severe C. difficile colitis and those with mild disease. Thirteen patients in the late stages of terminal illness with metastatic malignancy or age>90 were considered poor or inappropriate surgical candidates. Only the remaining eight patients could have potentially recovered from operation with hope for long-term survival. Of these, seven were treated without colonic resection, and six of the seven survived, whereas one patient underwent colectomy and did not survive.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients with severe C. difficile colitis can be readily identified. Often they have coexisting illness that precludes operation. In this series, only 1 of 21 patients with severe C. difficile might have benefited from an aggressive surgical approach.
Department of Surgery, Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.