3 years ago

Clinical heterogeneity of patients with stool samples testing PCR+/Tox− from a two-step Clostridium difficile diagnostic algorithm

Jason Zou, Victor Leung, Sylvie Champagne, Michelle Hinch, Anna Wong, Elisa Lloyd-Smith, Trong Tien Nguyen, Marc G. Romney, Azra Sharma, Michael Payne, Christopher F. Lowe


The clinical significance of indeterminate (PCR+/Tox−) results for patients tested with a two-step algorithm for Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is uncertain. We aimed to evaluate the clinical presentation and 8-week outcomes of patients with indeterminate test results. Patients with stool samples testing positive by PCR and negative by toxin A/B immunoassay between February 1, 2017, and April 30, 2018, were assessed by antimicrobial stewardship program (ASP) clinicians and classified as colonized or infected. Retrospective chart review was performed to obtain outcomes occurring within 8 weeks of testing, including recurrent C. difficile diarrhea, subsequent treatment for CDI, follow-up C. difficile testing, all-cause mortality, and CDI-related complications. In total, 110 PCR+/Tox− patients were evaluated. ASP classified 54% of patients as infected and 46% as colonized. Patients assessed and classified as colonized did not have increased adverse outcomes by 8 weeks compared to those assessed as infected, despite not receiving treatment for CDI. We conclude that PCR+/Tox− patients are heterogeneous with respect to clinical presentation. Negative toxin A/B immunoassay in a two-step algorithm should not be interpreted in isolation to distinguish colonization from infection as many PCR+/Tox− results may be clinically significant for CDI.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10096-018-3383-7

DOI: 10.1007/s10096-018-3383-7

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