“Stool transplantation” and other stories . . .

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g3326 (Published 21 May 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3326

It is the cure that dare not speak its name. Although it is the most important treatment in gastroenterology for decades, we literally step round it. “Stool transplantation” is clearly the most effective treatment for persisting Clostridium difficile infection and is very promising for inflammatory bowel disease. But to Minerva, this term belongs more to carpentry than to medicine. There is an urgent need for abundant, relatively odourless, properly screened frozen human excrement. A recent report from Massachusetts General Hospital (2014, www.massgeneral.org/about/pressrelease.aspx?id=1697) suggests that this may be the new standard treatment, although the FDA is currently discouraging its use. As for what to call it, the great Scottish poet Robert Henryson, when dying from diarrhoea at the age of about 90 (circa 1500), is said to have mocked the incantations of the “wise woman” sent to cure him by pointing at his oak table and chanting “Oken burd, oken burd, garre me shit a hard …

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