Unusual pioneering procedure to treat life-threatening gut infection being carried out at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

Dr Ngozi Elumogo in the laboratory.

Dr Ngozi Elumogo in the laboratory. - Credit: Archant

In the last year the lives of 20 patients have been transformed after undergoing a new procedure at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

In the last year the lives of 20 patients have been transformed after undergoing a new procedure at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

The patients, who were diagnosed with dangerous gut-infection Clostridium difficile (c-diff), have all been given a faecal microbiota transplant – which has been made possible thanks to partnership work between the N&N and the Institute for Food Research in Norwich.

Valerie Rowe, one of the patients, said her health was 100pc better since the treatment. The procedure has been carried out at the N&N since August last year, but it has taken a while to assess the success-rate of the treatment because there are not many cases of c-diff every year. Currently the success rate stands at 90pc.

Researchers today hailed the procedure, as this week is International Infection Prevention Awareness Week, and said it marked the first time a cure for c-diff had been found.


You may also want to watch:


They are now hoping to expand the treatment to patients across Norfolk and Suffolk.

Ngozi Elumogo, consultant microbiologist and director of infection prevention and control at the N&N, said: 'This new treatment is effective because it restores healthy gut bacteria. It is a natural product which is very well tolerated with no significant side effects.

Most Read

'It also delivers considerable cost savings as well as delivering a higher cure rate for patients compared to the use of antibiotics.'

How the treatment works

C-diff is a bacterium which lives in people's intestines without causing disease.

It is normally kept in check by the many millions of other 'healthy' bacteria in the gut.

But when this normal healthy balance is disturbed by antibiotics or ill-health, c-diff can cause disease ranging from mild diarrhoea to life-threatening sepsis.

Dr Elumogo, a consultant microbiologist and director of infection prevention and control at the N&N, said there was a growing trend of patients developing c-diff in the community because people are living longer, often with multiple illnesses, and have weakened immune-systems or are given antibiotics as treatment for another condition.

Prior to this new treatment the only options for treating c-diff were antibiotics.

Around a third of c-diff patients treated with antibiotics experience relapses – creating a cycle of recurrence.

The treatment process involves faecal material, which is screened and confirmed to be infection-free.

It is mixed with saline and administered, filtered and infused via a fine tube.

The treatment has been made possible by the partnership between hospital consultants and lab staff and scientists

at the Institute of Food Research.

Have you got a health story? Email nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus