Clostridium difficile: Clinical disease and diagnosis

F. C. Knoop, M. Owens, I. C. Crocker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations


Clostridium difficile is an opportunistic pathogen that causes a spectrum of disease ranging from antibiotic-associated diarrhea to pseudomembranous colitis. Although the disease was first described in 1893, the etiologic agent was not isolated and identified until 1978. Since clinical and pathological features of C. difficile associated disease are not easily distinguished from those of other gastrointestinal diseases, including ulcerative colitis, chronic inflammatory bowel disease, and Crohn's disease, diagnostic methods have relied on either isolation and identification of the microorganism or direct detection of bacterial antigens or toxins in stool specimens. The current review focuses on the sensitivity, specificity, and practical use of several diagnostic tests, including methods for culture of the etiologic agent, cellular cytotoxicity assays, latex agglutination tests, enzyme immunoassay systems, counterimmuno-electrophoresis, fluorescent-antibody assays, and polymerase chain reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-265
Number of pages15
JournalClinical Microbiology Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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