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Practice of gastroenterologists in treating flaring inflammatory bowel disease patients with clostridium difficile: Antibiotics alone or combined antibiotics/immunomodulators?

Yanai, Henit MD1; Nguyen, Geoffrey C. MD, PhD2; Yun, Laura MD3; Lebwohl, Oscar MD4; Navaneethan, Udayakumar MD5; Stone, Christian D. MD6; Ghazi, Leyla MD7; Moayyedi, Paul PhD, FRCP8; Brooks, Jeffrey MD9; Bernstein, Charles N. MD10; Ben-Horin, Shomron MD11*

doi: 10.1002/ibd.21514
Original Clinical Articles

Background: The optimal management of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) in flaring inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients has not been defined. Limited data suggest that coadministration of immunomodulators (IM) with antibiotics (AB) results in a worse outcome. We investigated the prevalent practice among North American gastroenterologists in this scenario.

Methods: A structured questionnaire presented the clinical cases of two hospitalized patients with ulcerative colitis and concomitant CDI, either with or without prior IM treatment. The questionnaire was distributed to a sample of gastroenterologists at medical centers across North America. Respondents were requested to denote their therapeutic choices for these patients.

Results: The survey included 169 gastroenterologists, 122 from the US and 47 from Canada, with an average of 12 ± 10 years of experience in gastroenterology. Forty-two (25%) of the respondents were IBD experts. Seventy-seven (46%) respondents elected to add an IM in combination with AB, whereas 82/169 (54%) treated the flare with AB alone (P = NS). The rate of administering combined AB+IM was similar for the IBD experts and the non-IBD experts. Only 11% of respondents withdrew maintenance azathioprine upon the diagnosis of CDI. More IBD experts stopped azathioprine treatment compared to the non-IBD experts (12/42 versus 6/127, P < 0.001). Overall, 65% of surveyed gastroenterologists stated they believe these patients are afflicted by two simultaneous but separate disease processes.

Conclusions: There is significant disagreement among gastroenterologists on whether combination AB+IM or AB alone should be given to IBD patients with CDI-associated flares. Controlled trials are needed to investigate the optimal management approach to this clinical dilemma. (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2010;)

1 University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago, IL

2 Mount Sinai IBD Center, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

3 Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL

4 Columbia University Medical Center, New-York, NY

5 University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH

6 Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO

7 University of Maryland Medical Center, College Park, MD

8 McMaster University Medical Centre, Hamilton, Canada

9 Merit Care Hospital, University of North Dakota, Fargo, ND

10 University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

11 Sheba Medical Center, Tel-Aviv University, Israel

* Gastroenterology Department, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer 52621, Israel


Received 1 September 2010; Accepted 7 September 2010

Published online 18 November 2010 in Wiley Online Library (

Supported in part by the “Talpiot” Medical Leadership grant from Sheba Medical Center (to S.B.H.).

© Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, Inc.
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