C. Difficile - Diagnosis

Not ready to share? Read other Patient Comments

How was your clostridium difficile colitis diagnosed?

Share your story with others:

MedicineNet appreciates your comment. Your comment may be displayed on the site and will always be published anonymously.Patient Comments FAQs

Enter your Comment

Tell us a bit about your background to make your comments more useful to other MedicineNet users. (Optional)

Screen Name: *

Gender of Patient: Male Female

Age Range of Patient:

I am a: Patient Caregiver


* Screen Name will appear next to the published comment. Please do not include your full name or email address.

By submitting your comment, and other materials (collectively referred to as a "Submission") to MedicineNet, you grant MedicineNet permission to use, copy, transmit, publish, display, edit and modify your Submission in connection with its Web site. MedicineNet will not pay you for your Submission. You represent that you have all rights necessary for MedicineNet to use your Submission as set forth above.

Please keep these guidelines in mind when writing your comment:

  • Please make sure you address the question asked.
  • Due to the overwhelming number of comments received, not all comments will be published.
  • When selecting comments to publish, our staff will choose those that are educational and complement the topic. Please try to stay on topic.
  • Your comment may be edited. We would typically edit comments to make them clearer and more readable. We will remove personal information such as last names, email and web addresses, and other potentially harmful information.
  • We will not notify you if your comment has been published. We suggest that you check back on the topic article regularly.
  • We do not provide medical or healthcare advice, treatment, or diagnosis.

Thank you for participating!


I have read and agree to abide by the MedicineNet Terms and Conditions and the MedicineNet Privacy Policy (required).

To prevent our systems from spam, please complete the following prior to submitting your comment.

Please select the black square:

How is C. difficile colitis diagnosed?

History

A history of antibiotic use is important in the diagnosis of C. difficile colitis. Patients taking antibiotics (or recently having taken antibiotics) who develop abdominal pain, cramps and diarrhea are usually tested for C. difficile infection. However, doctors do not always wait for the appearance of diarrhea to start testing for C. difficile since in rare instances C. difficile can cause abdominal pain and tenderness without diarrhea.

Laboratory tests

Patients with C. difficile colitis often have elevated white blood cell counts in the blood, and, in severe colitis, the white blood cell counts can be very high (20,000 to 40,000). Patients with C. difficile colitis also often have white blood cells in their stool when a sample of stool is examined under a microscope. Elevated white blood cell counts and white blood cells in the stool, however, only demonstrate that there is colitis and not that the cause of the colitis is C. difficile. More specific tests are necessary to determine whether C. difficile is the cause of the colitis.

The most widely used test for diagnosing C. difficile colitis is a test that detects toxins produced by C. difficile in a sample of stool. There are two different toxins, toxin A and toxin B, both capable of causing colitis. Accurate tests for both toxins are available commercially for use in all laboratories. Unfortunately, like most tests in medicine, these tests for toxins are not perfect; both false positive tests (finding toxins when there is no C. difficile) and false negative tests (not finding toxins when C. difficile is present) can occur. Therefore, other tests such as flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy often are necessary to look for pseudomembranes that are characteristic of C. difficile colitis.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy

Flexible sigmoidoscopy is an examination in which a doctor inserts a flexible fiberoptic tube with a light and a camera on its end into the rectum and sigmoid colon. (The sigmoid colon is the segment of the colon that is closest to the rectum.) In most patients with C. difficile colitis, the doctor will find pseudomembranes in the rectum and the sigmoid colon. However, some patients with C. difficile colitis will have pseudomembranes only in the right colon (the segment of the colon farthest from the rectum). Patients with pseudomembranes confined to the right colon require colonoscopy in order to see the pseudomembranes. (A colonoscope is a longer version of the flexible sigmoidoscope that is long enough to reach the right colon.)

X-Rays

X-ray examinations and computed tomography (CT) examinations of the abdomen will occasionally demonstrate thickening of the wall of the colon due to inflammation, but these x-ray findings also are non-specific and only demonstrate that colitis is present. They do not demonstrate the cause of the colitis, for example, C. difficile.

Return to Clostridium Difficile Colitis (Antibiotic-Associated Colitis, C. difficile colitis)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Robin, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: May 12

I have been battling clostridium difficile colitis for a long time, due to overprescribing of antibiotics. The first time I had it, it was found after other things were ruled out. Going on round 4 now, I wonder if I will ever be free of it. I had a really nasty urinary tract infection (UTI) a few months ago and it said on the bottle of antibiotics that it could cause C. difficile at a later stage. This time I"ve been sicker than the other times. It causes me to be sick to my stomach, have no appetite, feel weak, and of course run to the bathroom a dozen times a day. Something has to be done about the over prescribing of antibiotics. This is a very serious disease.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: maryam, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 21

Positive AG and toxin: presence of toxigenic Clostridium difficile strain by PCR test - that was my stool result. I was having diarrhea more than 12 times per day, abdominal pain, fever 40C, as well as fainting and nausea. I was admitted in the hospital for a week and were given many antibiotics including Flagyl. The doctor said that the main reason is antibiotics, especially Augmentin and amoxicillin. Now my result is negative.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

STAY INFORMED

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!