Fecal transplant capsule as good as colonoscopy to treat C. difficile: study

WATCH ABOVE: It may sound unpleasant, but an Edmonton doctor is using fecal transplants to make a huge difference for patients who are incredibly sick. Su-Ling Goh explains.

A Canadian study has found that a fecal transplant for treating clostridium difficile in the gut is effective whether it’s delivered by colonoscopy or by swallowing a capsule.

Taking a capsule containing frozen donor bacteria was shown to be 96 per cent effective in treating C. difficile, the same success rate as those receiving a fecal transplant by colonoscopy.

READ MORE: Fecal transplants are changing patients’ lives 

The pills have no scent or taste and eliminate much of the ick factor associated with the use of fecal matter from a healthy donor, which can restore the balance of bacteria in a recipient’s intestine.

C. difficile causes diarrhea, cramping and other gastrointestinal difficulties and can be extremely debilitating and resistant to treatment by antibiotics. In some cases, the infection can be fatal.

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Lead researcher Dr. Dina Kao of the University of Alberta says capsules have numerous advantages over colonoscopy because they are non-invasive, less expensive and can be administered in a doctor’s office without sedation.

READ MORE: ‘Ick’ factor notwithstanding, patients would accept fecal transplants: survey 

The study is published in Tuesday’s edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Kao says the capsules, which were developed by Dr. Thomas Louie of the University of Calgary, could revolutionize and broaden the use of fecal transplants for treating C. difficile.

“This will transform the way people think about how we deliver fecal microbiota transplant,” she said, noting that using the capsules instead of colonoscopy could save the health system at least $1,000 per patient.

Watch below: New research compares effectiveness of delivery methods for fecal transplants. Plus, Su-Ling Goh tells us how Edmonton organizations help women who are pregnant and homeless.

Edmonton Health Matters: Nov. 28
Edmonton Health Matters: Nov. 28