What is a fecal transplant?
A fecal transplant can also be known as stool transplantation, fecal microbiota transplantation or fecal transfusion and is often simply called ‘FMT’. At present, it’s primarily used to treat Clostridium difficile infections.
The aim of FMT is to recolonize your colon with good bacteria, which may have been depleted in your bowel by medical conditions or antibiotics. When your level of good bacteria falls, this allows ‘bad bacteria’, such as Clostridium difficile, to over-populate your colon. This can result in an infection called C. diff. colitis, which can cause severe diarrhea.
Fecal matter from a carefully tested donor is collected, mixed with a solution such as saline and then strained. This liquid is then placed in your bowel via a colonoscopy, endoscopy or sigmoidoscopy procedure, or via an enema. Depending on the route used for your fecal transplant, you may be offered sedation and/or painkillers during the procedure.
Before the procedure, you will be given a course of antibiotics and instructed to take laxatives, and drink extra fluids, before the procedure.
You’ll normally be able to return home after you have passed a stool. You may suffer some cramping, belching or bloating for a few days, and should expect loose stools. However, within a week these symptoms should reduce, and you should notice your stools become more solid.
Who needs a fecal transplant?
FMT is not yet a first line therapy for Clostridium difficile infection, even though results indicate it may be a more successful treatment than a Vancomycin regime (antibiotic treatment). It’s likely to be recommended if you have a Clostridium difficile infection that is severe, persistent or drug-resistant.
The procedure has also shown promising early results in experimental treatment of other digestive or auto-immune diseases, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, and Ulcerative Colitis.