Clostridium difficile colitis.

Australian and New Zealand journal of medicine 11/1984; 14(5):606-10. DOI: 10.1111/j.1445-5994.1984.tb05009.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We reviewed all rectal biopsies performed on patients with proven C. difficile infection between 1977 and 1982 (36 patients). All patients were symptomatic and all had received antibiotic treatment recently, the commonest antibiotic treatment being ampicillin or amoxycillin. There was poor correlation between the histological appearances and the severity of symptoms. A range of histological appearances was observed: normal (8%), congestion and edema (8%), nonspecific colitis (3%), infective colitis (28%) and pseudomembranous colitis (53%) (PMC). Most cases of PMC showed 'early' features, involving predominantly the surface epithelium, where attenuation and inflammation, intraepithelial microabscesses, and small eruptive lesions were seen. Recognition of these features, in the context of an acute infective-type colitis, may lead to early diagnosis of C. difficile colitis.

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    ABSTRACT: Clostridium difficile is the etiologic agent of pseudomembranous colitis, a severe, sometimes fatal disease that occurs in adults undergoing antimicrobial therapy. The disease, ironically, has been most effectively treated with antibiotics, although some of the newer methods of treatment such as the replacement of the bowel flora may prove more beneficial for patients who continue to relapse with pseudomembranous colitis. The organism produces two potent exotoxins designated toxin A and toxin B. Toxin A is an enterotoxin believed to be responsible for the diarrhea and mucosal tissue damage which occur during the disease. Toxin B is an extremely potent cytotoxin, but its role in the disease has not been as well studied. There appears to be a cascade of events which result in the expression of the activity of these toxins, and these events, ranging from the recognition of a trisaccharide receptor by toxin A to the synergistic action of the toxins and their possible dissemination in the body, are discussed in this review. The advantages and disadvantages of the various assays, including tissue culture assay, enzyme immunoassay, and latex agglutination, currently used in the clinical diagnosis of the disease also are discussed.
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