ISSN : 2146-3123
E-ISSN : 2146-3131

A Diagnostic Algorithm for the Detection of Clostridium difficile-Associated Diarrhea
Özlem Yoldaş 1, Mustafa Altındiş 2, Davut Cufalı 3, Gülşah Aşık 3, Recep Keşli 3
1Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, Türkan Özilhan Bornova State Hospital, İzmir, Turkey
2Department of Medical Microbiology, Sakarya University Faculty of Medicine, Sakarya, Turkey
3Department of Medical Microbiology, Afyon Kocatepe University Faculty of Medicine, Afyon, Turkey
DOI : 10.5152/balkanmedj.2015.15159
Pages : 80-86


Background: Clostridium difficile is a common cause of hospital-acquired diarrhea, which is usually associated with previous antibiotic use. The clinical manifestations of C. difficile infection (CDI) may range from mild diarrhea to fulminant colitis. Clostridium difficile should be considered in diarrhea cases with a history of antibiotic use within the last 8 weeks (community-associated CDI) or with a hospital stay of at least 3 days, regardless of the duration of antibiotic use (hospital-acquired CDI).

Aims: This study investigated the frequency of CDI in diarrheic patients and evaluated the efficacy of the triple diagnostic algorithm that is proposed here for C. difficile detection.

Study Design: Cross-sectional study.

Methods: In this study, we compared three methods currently employed for C. difficile detection using 95 patient stool samples: an enzyme immunoassay (EIA) for toxin A/B (C. diff Toxin A+B; Diagnostic Automation Inc.; Calabasas, CA, USA), an EIA for glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) (C. DIFF CHEK-60TM, TechLab Inc.; Blacksburg, VA, USA), and a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based assay (GeneXpert® C. difficile; Cepheid, Sunnyvale, CA, USA) that detects C. difficile toxin genes and conventional methods as well. In this study, 50.5% of the patients were male, 50 patients were outpatients, 32 were from inpatient clinics and 13 patients were from the intensive care unit.

Results: Of the 95 stool samples tested for GDH, 28 were positive. Six samples were positive by PCR, while nine samples were positive for toxin A/B. The hypervirulent strain NAP-1 and binary toxin was not detected. The rate of occurrence of toxigenic C. difficile was 5.1% in the samples. Cefaclor, ampicillin-sulbactam, ertapenem, and piperacillin-tazobactam were the most commonly used antibiotics by patients preceding the onset of diarrhea. Among the patients who were hospitalized in an intensive care unit for more than 7 days, 83.3% were positive for CDI by PCR screening. If the PCR test is accepted as the reference: C. difficile Toxin A/B ELISA sensitivity and specificity were 67% and 94%, respectively, and GDH sensitivity and specificity were 100% and 75%, respectively.

Conclusion: Tests targeting C. difficile toxins are frequently applied for the purpose of diagnosing CDI in a clinical setting. However, changes in the temperature and reductant composition of the feces may affect toxin stability, potentially yielding false-negative test results. Therefore, employment of a GDH EIA, which has high sensitivity, as a screening test for the detection of toxigenic strains, may prevent false-negative results, and its adoption as part of a multistep diagnostic algorithm may increase accuracy in the diagnosis of CDIs.

Keywords : Clostridium difficile, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, toxin A/B, glutamate dehydrogenase, PCR assay (GeneXpert®)

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