Evaluation of Correlation between Pretest Probability for Clostridium difficile Infection and Clostridium difficile Enzyme Immunoassay Results
The objective of this study was to evaluate the clinical characteristics and outcomes of hospitalized patients tested for Clostridium difficile and determine the correlation between pretest probability for C. difficile infection (CDI) and assay results. Patients with testing ordered for C. difficile were enrolled and assigned a high, medium, or low pretest probability of CDI based on clinical evaluation, laboratory, and imaging results. Stool was tested for C. difficile by toxin enzyme immunoassay (EIA) and toxigenic culture (TC). Chi-square analyses and the log rank test were utilized. Among the 111 patients enrolled, stool samples from nine were TC positive and four were EIA positive. Sixty-one (55%) patients had clinically significant diarrhea, 19 (17%) patients did not, and clinically significant diarrhea could not be determined for 31 (28%) patients. Seventy-two (65%) patients were assessed as having a low pretest probability of having CDI, 34 (31%) as having a medium probability, and 5 (5%) as having a high probability. None of the patients with low pretest probabilities had a positive EIA, but four were TC positive. None of the seven patients with a positive TC but a negative index EIA developed CDI within 30 days after the index test or died within 90 days after the index toxin EIA date. Pretest probability for CDI should be considered prior to ordering C. difficile testing and must be taken into account when interpreting test results. CDI is a clinical diagnosis supported by laboratory data, and the detection of toxigenic C. difficile in stool does not necessarily confirm the diagnosis of CDI.
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