Despite new evidence in support of the practice, an "ick factor" would prevent some practitioners from recommending donor feces infusions to patients. Maybe it just needs a nicer name?
The Internet remains abuzz about a small Dutch study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week that supports the practice of fecal transplantation -- taking a healthy person's feces and running it through the bowel of someone suffering from a C. difficile infection -- as an effective adjunct therapy.
Where to begin. No, it's not an innately appealing concept -- having someone else's poop where there's only supposed to be your own. It's not a dinner-party or first-date conversation starter. It might even speak to other behavioral issues if you were unabashedly on board with the idea when you first heard it. But for all that gastroenterologists see and deal with, this isn't really above or beyond. It's actually something we've been doing since the 1950s, in some places. Just for perspective, next time you're hanging out with a gastroenterologist, ask them what the grossest thing they've ever seen is. You'll feel a lot more comfortable with a little fecal lavage.
What does seem above and beyond is some of the responses to this survey at MedPage this morning:
Another study has shown the benefits of fecal transplantation for patients with persistent intestinal complaints, but many patients may find the concept repugnant. Would the "ick factor" associated with fecal transplantation prevent you from recommending it to patients?
The answer is no, that C. diff is a bad infection and we would recommend treating it by the most effective methods we have. Of 1,438 responses, though, 24.5 percent said yes.
Caveat, granted, we don't know how many people responding to this survey were actually doctors or other medical professionals; you don't have to show credentials to participate. But flawed sample aside, the percentage of physicians who wouldn't offer a therapy because it's ick should be zero. If you don't agree with it medically, that's a separate thing.