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Clostridium Difficile Colitis Differential Diagnoses

  • Author: Faten N Aberra, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
 
Updated: Oct 13, 2015
 
 

Diagnostic Considerations

Although C difficile infection (CDI) is a well-recognized cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, other infectious (eg, salmonellosis, shigellosis) and noninfectious causes for diarrhea should also be considered.

C difficile colitis should be considered in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Patients with IBD have several risk factors that put them at an increased risk for CDI, including immune system impairment due to immunomodulator or biologic therapy, exposure to antibiotics, and frequent hospitalization. The diagnosis of CDI is confirmed when the cytotoxin is present in the patient’s stool sample.

Differential Diagnoses

 
 
Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Faten N Aberra, MD MSCE, Assistant Professor Of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Faten N Aberra, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Gastroenterology, American Gastroenterological Association, Sigma Xi, Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Jennifer A Curry, MD, MPH Attending Physician, Infectious Disease Clinic, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth; Assistant Professor of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Jennifer A Curry, MD, MPH is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Physicians, American Society for Microbiology, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

BS Anand, MD Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Baylor College of Medicine

BS Anand, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, American College of Gastroenterology, American Gastroenterological Association, American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgments

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, or the US government.

LCDR Jennifer Curry is a military service member. This work was prepared as part of official duties. Title 17 U.S.C. §105 provides that ‘Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government.’ Title 17 U.S.C. §101 defines a U.S. Government work as a work prepared by a military service member or employee of the US Government as part of that person’s official duties.

Additional Contributors

Burke A Cunha, MD Professor of Medicine, State University of New York School of Medicine at Stony Brook; Chief, Infectious Disease Division, Winthrop-University Hospital

Burke A Cunha, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Chest Physicians, American College of Physicians, and Infectious Diseases Society of America

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Gary L Gorby, MD Associate Professor, Departments of Internal Medicine and Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Division of Infectious Diseases, Creighton University School of Medicine; Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center; Associate Chair, Omaha Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Gary L Gorby, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Medical Association, American Society for Microbiology, Infectious Diseases Society of America, and New York Academy of Sciences

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Craig A Gronczewski, MD Clinical Assistant Professor, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey; Consulting Staff, Princeton Medical Center; Consulting Staff, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Craig A Gronczewski, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha and American College of Emergency Physicians

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Braden R Hale, MD, MPH Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, University of California at San Diego; Consulting Staff, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Naval Medical Center at San Diego

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Duane R Hospenthal, MD, PhD, FACP, FIDSA Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Duane R Hospenthal, MD, PhD, FACP, FIDSA is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American College of Physicians, American Medical Association, American Society for Microbiology, American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Armed Forces Infectious Diseases Society, Association of Military Surgeons of the US, Infectious Diseases Society of America, International Society for Human and Animal Mycology, International Society for Infectious Diseases,International Society of Travel Medicine, and Medical Mycology Society of the Americas

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Joseph F John Jr, MD, FACP, FIDSA, FSHEA Clinical Professor of Medicine, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine; Associate Chief of Staff for Education, Ralph H Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Jonathan P Katz, MD Assistant Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Jonathan P Katz, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Gastroenterological Association and American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Joseph Lee, MD Staff Physician, Department of Medicine, Walter Reed Army Medical Center

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Waqar A Qureshi, MD Associate Professor of Medicine, Chief of Endoscopy, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Baylor College of Medicine and Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Waqar A Qureshi, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Gastroenterology, American College of Physicians, American Gastroenterological Association, and American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Medscape Salary Employment

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Endoscopic visualization of pseudomembranous colitis, a characteristic manifestation of full-blown Clostridium difficile colitis. Classic pseudomembranes are visible as raised, yellow plaques ranging from 2 to 10 mm in diameter and scattered over the colorectal mucosa. Courtesy of Gregory Ginsberg, MD, University of Pennsylvania.
Colonic pseudomembranes of pseudomembranous colitis. Photographs courtesy of Eric M. Osgard, MD.
Gross pathology specimen from a case of pseudomembranous colitis revealing the characteristic yellowish plaques.
Gross pathology specimen from a case of pseudomembranous colitis, again demonstrating the characteristic yellowish plaques.
Frontal abdominal radiograph in a patient with proved pseudomembranous colitis. Note the nodular haustral thickening, most pronounced in the transverse colon.
Barium enema demonstrating the typical serrated appearance of the barium column (resulting from trapped barium between the edematous mucosal folds and the plaquelike membranes of pseudomembranous colitis).
Axial computed tomography scan of pseudomembranous colitis.
Computed tomography scan of pseudomembranous colitis.
Ultrasonographic image of pseudomembranous colitis.
 
 
 
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