A simple procedure to help patients with the Clostridium difficile, or c.diff, infection is being used across the country, including at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Known as a fecal transplant, it's also been described by an expert as "kind of an outpatient colonoscopy."

The procedure is not fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but it is used widely because it is a relatively simple  process that has been shown to be effective. Hospitals label it a "clinical practice," and the treatment has the support of many experts, including Dr. Sahil Khanna, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic.

Khanna studies and works with the c.diff bacteria in epidemiology as he conducts fecal transplants, in his laboratory work and while evaluating its environmental effects. The transplants are given to those who have multiple recurrences of the infection, or about 5 percent of all those diagnosed with c.diff.

"That's because normal bacteria gets destroyed every time you get the infection and are treated for it. When a transplant is done, you are given someone else's healthy bacteria, and it's from a person who has been screened for infections in the blood and in stools. The donor can be from the family or outside the family," he explained.

Unlike other transplants, there is no need for tissue matching in fecal transplants. The need is simply for "good" and protective bacteria.

The transplant process goes basically like this, Khanna said:

  • The donor is screened.
  • The recipient stops all antibiotic treatments 24-48 hours before the procedure.
  • The recipient gets a colonoscopy to get rid of all fecal material in the body.
  • The donor supplies a fresh stool the morning of the procedure.
  • A portion of the stool, less than 2 ounces, is processed in the laboratory and inserted in the bottom part of the patient's large intestine.

"Most patients feel better in one to three days," the doctor said.

The success rate of the procedure at Mayo is 85 percent to 90 percent, and, according to Khanna, those figures are consistent across the United States.

— Deirdre Cox Baker

(8) comments


My eight year old daughter had a fecal transplant recently . It saved her life . She suffered through seven months of c. diff and the meds failed three times to cure it. She is now testing negative and on the road to recovery thanks to her donor and fecal transplantation.


Hi does anyone know if they do this for IBS patients?


A nasty norovirus-gastroenteritis (grossly erroneously called by some ignoramuses "stomach-flu", when flu --caused by any of the three influenza viruses-- has nothing to do with the gastrointestinal system, but with the respiratory one) that sent me to the hospital for three days left my gastrointestinal micro-flora depleted to digestive inoperativeness. I made lose, so far, 47 pounds in less than two months, with neither prescription nor homey medicines doing anything to stop the open-faucet diarrhea that is afflicting me. Hence, tomorrow, I will be receiving fecal microbiota therapy, by means of fecal-transplant. This treatment is well known and old in Latin America, Europe and Asia; it is great that now it is available here in the good ole USA!!


YES!! fecal transplant!... it saved my uncle's life actually. He was in rapid decline from C diff after a routine procedure at a hospital... check out my advocacy blog (nothing to sell) at fecaltransplant.info or fecaltransplant [DOT] info


It is great to finally see fecal transplant finally getting the attention that it deserves. While fecal transplants may seem “icky” to some, the illnesses it is used to treat are almost equally “icky” in terms of the symptoms which can include bloody diarrhea and even death. Actually the father of a close friend of mine died of complications from years of c. dii infection after the doctor refused to use fecal transplants even after being asked to give them a try.

Fortunately this treatment is finally getting attention in the United States in the last few years for the treatment of c. diff related Colitis after being well known in other countries for years. However it can also be used to treat Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. After 12 years of having Ulcerative Colitis and no medications working I faced surgery to remove my large intestine and wear a bag on the outside of my stomach. However I found out about fecal transplants and cancelled surgery. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a doctor willing to do them so I did them myself. Now, I am completely healthy and have not taken any drugs to manage the illness since December 2011. For more information about my story go to http://www.FecalTransplant.org


When I saw the phrase "fecal transplant" on this Quad City Times front page article, I thought the paper's site had been hacked. Then I read the article. ewwww. WAY too much information...


If you think this is bad, you should see how it was done in the beginning. Orally. Yep, orally. And it is going to be a VERY common thing in the near future. It is the primary line of defense when people get massive bacterial infections that require huge doses of antibiotics that clean out all the bacteria, both good and bad. I know someone who had this done recently. She was in the hospital for two months getting healed up.


I hope you never have to deal with c.difficile then, as you are driven to the point where you are willing to consider anything to feel better.

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