Yuck factor brings Essentia Health physician to ‘The Doctors’An Essentia Health physician and the unusual procedure he offers will be featured on the nationally syndicated television show, “The Doctors,” next week.
An Essentia Health physician and the unusual procedure he offers will be featured on the nationally syndicated television show, “The Doctors,” next week.
Dr. Tim Rubin, an Essentia Health gastroenterologist, treats patients suffering from a severe colon infection with a simple procedure known as a “stool transplant” or “fecal transplant.”
Patients come from around the country to see Dr. Rubin for recurring clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections. The condition causes patients to become quite ill with devastating diarrhea. Dr. Rubin uses a solution made from donor stool — usually a loved one, such as a spouse — to bring the patient’s colon bacteria back into balance.
“It’s prepared into a slurry that looks like the consistency of chocolate milk,” Dr. Rubin said. “The patient has a thin tube placed through the nose into the stomach. Then we gently infuse the solution into the patient’s upper GI tract.”
Patients don’t smell or taste anything, but they can feel a cold sensation as the liquid hits their stomach. Dr. Rubin says patients can start feeling better in a few days or weeks.
The success rate for the procedure is about 90 percent. Dr. Rubin compares that to a 20 percent success rate for the traditional antibiotic therapy with recurring C. diff.
“It doesn’t make sense to treat a problem caused by antibiotics with more antibiotics,” he says.
Dr. Rubin will explain the procedure and its benefits to patients during “The Doctors” episode airing Monday. In the Northland, the show airs on KDLH Channel 3 at 4 p.m. Dr. Rubin’s segment is slated to air toward the end of the show, which features several health issues that may have a “yuck factor” but are important to learn about.
While Dr. Rubin says few institutions across the country offer stool transplants, he believes acceptance is growing.
“It’s way too interesting and too successful to not make it available,” Dr. Rubin says. “It’s becoming recognized as a very simple, safe and highly successful tool to treat C. diff.”