Why It Is Still A Bad Idea To Test Asymptomatic Patients For Clostridium Difficile

JM Parnell et al. JPGN 2021; 72: 378-383. Two-step Testing for Clostridioides Difficile is Inadequate in Differentiating Infection From Colonization in Children

In this prospective study, the authors enrolled asymptomatic pediatric patients (n=225) and compared C diff testing results with symptomatic patients (n=41) with positive nucleic-acid amplification-based testing (NAAT).

Key findings:

  • Of the 225 asymptomatic children enrolled in the study, 47 (21%) were colonized with C. difficile including 9/59 (15.5%) with cancer, 30/92 (32.6%) with CF, and 8/74 (10.8%) with IBD. 
  • Overall, “use of a multistep testing algorithm with NAAT followed by EIA failed to differentiate symptomatic CDI from asymptomatic colonization in our pediatric cohort.” When symptomatic and colonized children were compared, neither EIA (enzyme immunoassay) positivity (44% vs 26%, P = 0.07) nor CCNA (functional cell cytotoxicity neutralization assay) positivity (49% vs 45%, P = 0.70) differed significantly

My take: Don’t test children who are asymptomatic for Clostridium difficile. Even in children with symptoms, C diff positivity could reflect colonization and symptoms could be due to other etiologies.

Related blog posts:

2 thoughts on “Why It Is Still A Bad Idea To Test Asymptomatic Patients For Clostridium Difficile

  1. Pingback: ACG Clostridium Difficile Guidelines Plus One | gutsandgrowth

  2. Pingback: Secondary Prophylaxis of Clostridiodes difficile Infection | gutsandgrowth

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