The Ertan Digestive Disease Center at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center offers fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) for patients with recurrent C. difficile (clostridioides difficile bacterium) infection.

Offered in cooperation with the School of Public Health at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), the FMT program is part of an Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved protocol for treatment of C. difficile infection.

To be eligible for FMT, patients must have three documented episodes where stool tests positive for C. difficile. FMT has been shown to be approximately 90% effective in treating cases of C. difficile that have not responded to other treatments.

What Is C. Difficile?

C. difficile is one of the nearly 1,000 species of micro-organisms that inhabit the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract. Most are harmless; many are necessary for good gastrointestinal (GI) health. An infection occurs when beneficial bacteria are outnumbered by C. difficile, causing serious intestinal problems, including chronic diarrhea and colitis. Symptoms can include:

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Appetite loss
  • Nausea

Patients can develop a C. difficile infection in one of several ways, most often:

  • When they have been treated with antibiotics, which eliminate beneficial bacteria in the GI tract.
  • In a setting, such as a hospital or long-term care facility, where broad-spectrum antibiotics are commonly administered for extended periods of time.

What Does the FMT Process Involve?

A donor who is approved for FMT is screened for and must be clear of these infections; among others:

  • Hepatitis A, B and C
  • HIV 1 and 2
  • HTLV 1 and 2
  • Syphilis

FMT is given by odorless, tasteless capsules 2-4 days after completing another course of treatment for C. difficile.

Transplant donors are volunteers at UTHealth who have been pre-screened for the diseases listed above, as well as C. difficile, parasites and bacteria (including E. coli O157:H7) and COVID-19 in the stool.

Recovery From FMT

Recipients do not need to be routinely retested, even if they have a recurrence within 2 months. However, the FMT can be repeated if the transplant has not been successful in restoring the bacteria to the intestine.

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