St. Luke’s Monroe Campus now offers a highly effective, innovative procedure to treat individuals with clostridium difficile infection (C diff), a serious infection that causes symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon.
St. Luke’s gastroenterologist Robert Malcolm, MD, recently performed what is believed to be Monroe County’s first fecal microbiota transplant (FMT), which greatly improved the life of the patient, a woman in her 20s.
“She told me numerous times that she felt that due to her condition, her life was on hold,” Dr. Malcolm said. “She couldn’t go to work because of the symptoms. She was desperate for relief so when we talked about the option, she didn’t hesitate at all.” Prior to the procedure, Dr. Malcolm had treated the patient with three courses of antibiotics, which were not effective in relieving her symptoms.
During the procedure, the patient receives stool containing beneficial intestinal microbiota from a carefully screened, healthy donor, Dr. Malcolm explains. The stool arrives in a frozen state and is then liquefied and transplanted into the patient with a syringe during colonoscopy. After the stool is placed in the patient’s gastrointestinal tract, the transplanted fecal matter delivers microbiota necessary for the gut to function properly.
“The procedure is relatively inexpensive, easily available and has more than a 90 percent cure rate. The majority of patients get results in three to five days. I think it’s wonderful that we are able to offer this procedure locally,” Dr. Malcolm says, adding that to the best of his knowledge, St. Luke’s is the only hospital offering the procedures in the Pocono area.
Fecal transplants offer hope to individuals who suffer with severe cases of C diff that cause recurrent and debilitating diarrhea. Weight loss resulting from the diarrhea can cause weakness and even death. Those most at risk are the elderly who take antibiotics.
Dr. Malcolm said he became interested in learning to perform the procedure several years ago. In recent years, Dr. Malcolm has seen an increased incidence in C diff, due in part to the overuse of antibiotics.
Traditionally, physicians treat C. diff with a course of antibiotics and probiotics. However, the effectiveness of this treatment varies, and C. diff can become chronic and lead to repeated use of antibiotics, adverse drug events, antibiotic resistance and repeated hospitalizations.
St. Luke’s also offers fecal microbiota transplants at its Bethlehem Campus. Performing the procedure are gastroenterologist Berhanu Geme, MD, and colorectal surgeons Camille Eyvazzadeh, MD, and Daniel Eyvazzadeh, MD.
“People who consider this option are at the point that they would do almost anything to rid themselves of the devastating diarrhea that has adversely affected their lives,” Dr. Geme says.
Sam Kennedy, Corporate Communications Director, 484-526-4134, firstname.lastname@example.org
About St. Luke’s
Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a fully integrated, regional, non-profit network of 14,000 employees providing services at 10 hospitals and over 300 outpatient sites. With annual net revenue of $1.9 billion, the Network’s service area includes 10 counties: Lehigh, Northampton, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Montgomery, Monroe and Schuylkill counties in Pennsylvania and Warren and Hunterdon counties in New Jersey. Dedicated to advancing medical education, St. Luke’s is the preeminent teaching hospital in central-eastern Pennsylvania. In partnership with Temple University, St. Luke’s created the region’s first and only regional medical school campus. It also operates the nation’s longest continuously operating School of Nursing, established in 1884, and 28 fully accredited graduate medical educational programs with 226 residents and fellows. St. Luke’s is the only health care system in central-eastern Pennsylvania to earn Medicare’s five-star rating (the highest) for quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction. St. Luke’s has earned the 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital designation from IBM Watson Health (formerly Truven Health Analytics) repeatedly – six times total and four years in a row including 2018. It has also been cited by IBM Watson Health as a 50 Top Cardiovascular Program. Utilizing the EPIC electronic medical record (EMR) system for both inpatient and outpatient services, the Network is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of the SLUHN’s information technology applications such as telehealth, online scheduling and online pricing information. St. Luke’s is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest cost providers.