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Pharmacy Practice


Background: Metronidazole may still be an appropriate therapeutic option for mild Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) in select patients, but data is limited to guide clinicians in identifying these patients.

Methods: Our two-stage study included a national cohort of Veterans with a first episode of mild CDI (2010–2014). First, among those treated with metronidazole, we identified predictors of success, defined as absence of all-cause mortality or recurrence 30-days post-treatment, using multivariable unconditional logistic regression. Second, among a subgroup of patients with characteristic/s predictive of success identified in the first-stage, we compared clinical outcomes among those treated with metronidazole compared with vancomycin, using Cox proportional hazards models for time to 30-day all-cause mortality, CDI recurrence, and failure.

Results: Among 3,656 patients treated with metronidazole, we identified 3,282 patients with success and 374 patients without success (failure). Younger age was the only independent predictor of success. Age ≤65 years was associated with an odds of success 1.63 times higher (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.29 – 2.06) than age >65 years. Among 115 propensity-score matched pairs ≤65 years of age, no significant differences were observed between metronidazole and vancomycin (reference) for all-cause mortality (hazard ratio [HR] 0.29, 95% CI 0.06–1.38), CDI recurrence (HR 0.62, 95% CI 0.26–1.49), or failure (HR 0.50, 95% CI 0.23–1.07).

Conclusion: Among patients ≤65 years of age with initial mild CDI, clinical outcomes were similar with metronidazole and vancomycin. These data suggest metronidazole may be considered for the treatment of initial mild CDI among patients 65 years of age or younger.