Clostridium Difficile Toxin

This is a test which may be done when a patient has diarrhea that lasts for several days, or has abdominal pain, fever, and nausea after antibiotic therapy.

This test looks for the presence of Clostridium difficile (C.diff.) toxin in a stool sample. C.diff. is a germ (bacterium) that is one of the groups of bacteria that are usually in the colon, called "normal flora." If something upsets the growth of the other normal flora, C.diff. may overgrow and disrupt the balance of bacteria in the colon. C. diff. may produce two toxins, A and B. The combination of overgrowth and toxins may cause prolonged diarrhea. The toxins may damage the lining of the colon and lead to colitis.

While some cases of C. diff. diarrhea and colitis do not require treatment, others require specific oral antibiotic therapy. Most patients improve as the normal flora re-establishes itself, but about some may have one or more relapses, with symptoms and detectible toxin levels coming back.

PREPARATION FOR TEST

There is no special preparation for the test. A fresh stool sample is collected in a sterile container. The sample should not be mixed with urine or water. The stool should be taken to the lab within an hour. It may be refrigerated or frozen and taken to the lab as soon as possible. The container should be labeled with your name and the date and time of the stool collection.

NORMAL FINDINGS

Negative Tissue Culture (no toxin identified)

Ranges for normal findings may vary among different laboratories and hospitals. You should always check with your doctor after having lab work or other tests done to discuss the meaning of your test results and whether your values are considered within normal limits.

MEANING OF TEST

Your caregiver will go over the test results with you and discuss the importance and meaning of your results, as well as treatment options and the need for additional tests if necessary.

OBTAINING THE TEST RESULTS

It is your responsibility to obtain your test results. Ask the lab or department performing the test when and how you will get your results.