Fecal Transplant: What You Need to Know
A fecal transplant is a procedure in which stool from a healthy donor is transferred to your GI tract. Here’s an overview of the procedure and what you can expect.
What is a Fecal Transplant?
Fecal transplants are used to help treat a bacterial infection condition called C. difficile colitis. This condition involves inflammation in the colon as a result of the C. difficile bacteria being present. It can cause diarrhea, fever, and pain, and can be severe if untreated. In some cases, this condition is a complication of antibiotic treatment- antibiotics may have killed off too many good bacteria in your GI system. It can also be caused by ingestion of the C. difficile bacteria itself. In any case, a fecal transplant can help. Doctors often first attempt to treat C. difficile colitis with antibiotics, but if the condition recurs they may shift to a fecal transplant.
Before the Procedure
Leading up to a transplant, you will have to meet with your doctor to confirm that it’s the best option. You will need a stool donor as well. In some cases, you may be tasked with finding your own potential donor. There are also organizations that gather qualified donor samples for use.
Doctors evaluate stool donors through a rigorous screening process. Many factors can disqualify potential donors, including recent antibiotic exposure, a recent tattoo or piercing, a history of drug use, a chronic GI disorder, or a history of high-risk sexual behavior. When a donor is a potential match, doctors will also screen them for infectious pathogens. They perform blood and stool tests to look for things like Hepatitis, HIV, parasites, and multi-drug-resistant organisms.
In the days leading up to the actual procedure, you’ll need to follow a few guidelines as well. You should not take any antibiotics in the two days before the transplant. You will have a liquid diet and will need to take a laxative or enema the night before the procedure as well. Follow your doctor’s specific instructions for the best outcomes.
During the Fecal Transplant
You will need someone to accompany you on the day of the procedure, as you will be undergoing anaesthetic. Doctors use a colonoscopy as the method to transplant the stool. As such, normal colonoscopy procedures are followed (you can read more here). You’ll be under anaesthesia as doctors use an endoscope to enter your GI tract and perform the transplant. The donor stool is deposited in your colon during this process. This healthy donor stool is then able to help replenish the balance of bacteria in your gut.
After the Procedure
Since this procedure involves a colonoscopy, you’ll have to recover from sedation immediately after the transplant. It can take around an hour to recover. Once recovered, your doctor will discuss how the procedure went with you. Sedative effects can linger for about a day, so you should avoid making important decisions or operating machinery for 24 hours afterwards. Make sure the person who brought you to the doctor’s office also takes you home, as you should not drive.
This procedure is highly effective at preventing a recurrence of C. difficile. A number of studies have shown around a 90% rate of success. This is a largely effective treatment option to solve issues with C. difficile colitis long-term.
Our experienced team at GHP has years of experience treating patients with conditions like C. difficile colitis. We can help establish the best plan of care for your situation. Contact any of our office locations to learn about the options we offer and schedule an appointment today.