Clostridioides (Clostridium) difficile Infection in Surgical Patients Clinical Practice Guidelines (2019)

World Society of Emergency Surgery (WSES)

This is a quick summary of the guidelines without analysis or commentary. For more information, go directly to the guidelines by clicking the link in the reference.

March 25, 2019

The guidelines on diagnosis and treatment of Clostridioides (Clostridium) difficile infection (CDI) in surgical patients were released on February 28, 2019, by the World Society of Emergency Surgery (WSES).[1]

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of CDI should be based on clinical signs and symptoms in combination with laboratory tests. Stool testing should only be performed on diarrheal stools from at-risk patients with clinically significant diarrhea (≥3 loose stools in 24 hours) with no obvious alternative explanation.

For patients with ileus who may be unable to produce stool specimens, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing of perirectal swabs is an acceptable alternative to stool specimen analysis.

Nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT) for C difficile toxin genes appears to be sensitive and specific and may be used as a standard diagnostic test for CDI. NAAT may be performed as a single-step algorithm or included in a two-step algorithm starting with toxin enzyme immunoassay (EIA).

Glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) testing is sensitive but does not differentiate between toxigenic and nontoxigenic strains. It may be used in association with toxin A/B EIA testing. Algorithms including screening with EIA for GDH followed by toxin assay may be suggested.

EIA for toxin A/B is fast, inexpensive, and highly specific but is relatively insensitive and is not recommended alone.

C difficile culture is relatively slow but sensitive and is rarely performed as a routine diagnostic test. It is recommended for subsequent epidemiologic typing and characterization of strains.

Repeat testing after a first negative sample during the same diarrheal episode may be useful only in selected cases with (a) ongoing clinical suspicion during an epidemic situation or (b) high clinical suspicion during endemic situations.

Computed tomography (CT) is suggested for patients with clinical manifestations of severe-to-complicated C difficile colitis; however, it is not sensitive enough for screening.

Ultrasonography (US) may be useful in critically ill patients suspected of having pseudomembranous colitis who cannot be transported to the CT suite.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy may be helpful in diagnosing C difficile colitis when there is a high level of clinical suspicion for CDI.

Antibiotic Therapy

Unnecessary antibiotics should be discontinued if CDI is suspected. Unnecessary proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) should be discontinued in patients at high risk for CDI.

Empirical antibiotic therapy should be avoided unless CDI is strongly suspected. In such cases, empirical therapy for CDI should be considered while test results are awaited.

Oral metronidazole should be limited to treatment of an initial episode of mild-to-moderate CDI. Oral vancomycin is recommended for treatment of mild-to-moderate disease unresponsive to metronidazole. Repeated or prolonged courses of metronidazole should be avoided. Oral vancomycin and fidaxomicin are both recommended for treatment of severe CDI.

When oral antibiotics cannot reach the colon, vancomycin may be administered as a retention enema via a large rectal tube or catheter.

Fidaxomicin may be used to treat CDI, especially in patients at higher risk for recurrence (eg, elderly patients or those receiving concomitant antibiotics).

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