Practice Guidelines Highlights From the Past Year

Douglas S. Paauw, MD

March 08, 2022

Dr Douglas S. Paauw

A 64-year-old woman is evaluated for fever, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. She was diagnosed with Clostridioides difficile 2 months ago and completed a 10-day course of vancomycin. Her stool toxin test is positive for Clostridioides difficile (C. diff). Based on the most recent Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) guidelines, what would be the preferred therapy?

A) Metronidazole
B) Fidaxomicin + bezlotoxumab
C) Vancomycin
D) Fecal microbiota transplant

The recommendations from the 2021 guidelines would be to treat with fidaxomicin and add bezlotoxumab.1 The guidelines highlight the following changes:

  • In patients with an initial Clostridioides difficile infections (CDI) fidaxomicin is preferred over vancomycin.

  • In patients with a recurrent CDI episode, fidaxomicin is favored over vancomycin. For patients with multiple recurrences, vancomycin in a tapered and pulsed regimen, vancomycin followed by rifaximin, and fecal microbiota transplantation are options in addition to fidaxomicin.

  • Addition of bezlotoxumab to standard of care antibiotics is recommended for recurrence of CDI within the first 6 months over standard of care antibiotics alone

The feasibility of these recommendations is up for debate. The cost of a course of fidaxomicin is $2,800, and the cost of bezlotoxumab is about $4,500. Cost effectiveness studies that helped drive the recommendations show a savings by reducing future hospitalizations for C. diff.2 Unfortunately, this enthusiasm is not shared by many insurance companies for outpatient treatment.

Knee Osteoarthritis

I will save you the excitement of the new acromegaly guidelines and focus on something we see all the time: knee osteoarthritis. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons has released guidelines for this condition.3 The useful points I found were as follows:

  • Topical application of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., diclofenac) should be used to improve function and quality of life in patients with knee osteoarthritis.

  • Exercise routines (i.e, supervised, unsupervised, and/or aquatic) are recommended versus no exercise for improving pain and function in patients with knee osteoarthritis.

  • Not recommended is the use of oral narcotics (including tramadol), as they are not effective at improving pain or function, and their use results in a significant increased risk of adverse events.

  • Not recommended for routine use in symptomatic knee osteoarthritis is intra-articular injection of hyaluronic acid.

I was happy to see topical NSAIDS recommended, as they are a much safer option in older patients than oral NSAIDS (which were also recommended). The recommendation against narcotics, including tramadol, is a shift from the recommendation of tramadol in the 2013 guidelines.4 Acetaminophen was enthusiastically recommended, and is still worth a try.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

The CDC published new guidelines on sexually transmitted infections last year, and there were several changes from previous guidelines that were worth highlighting.These include the following:

  • The dosing for the treatment of gonorrhea has increased to 500 mg of ceftriaxone (was 250 mg in 2015 guidelines), with a dose of 1 gram for patients who weigh more than 150 kg.

  • Chlamydia infections should be treated with a 7-day course of doxycycline as the preferred antibiotic, except in pregnant women (where azithromycin is recommended).

  • Herpes simplex virus 2 recurrences can be treated with twice-daily dosing of 800 mg of acyclovir for 5 days, or acyclovir 800 mg three times a day for 2 days. The shortest course for recurrence is famciclovir 1 gram twice a day for 1 day.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has removed the recommendation for avoidance of alcohol when taking metronidazole.

I hope these highlights of guidelines for common issues we see are helpful!

Paauw is professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine at the University of Washington, Seattle, and serves as third-year medical student clerkship director at the University of Washington. He is a member of the editorial advisory board of Internal Medicine News. Paauw has no conflicts to disclose. Contact him at


1. Johnson S et al. Clinical practice guideline by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA): 2021 Focused update guidelines on management of Clostridioides difficile Infection in adults. Clin Infect Dis. 2021 Sep 7;73(5):e1029-e1044.

2. Pabhu VS et al. Cost-effectiveness of bezlotoxumab compared with placebo for the prevention of recurrent Clostridium difficile infection. Clin Infect Dis. 2018 Feb 1;66(3):355-62.

3. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Management of osteoarthritis of the knee (non-arthroplasty) — Evidence-based clinical practice guideline (2021 Aug 31.

4. Jevsevar DS. Treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: Evidence-based guideline, 2nd edition. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2013: Sep;21(9):571-6.

5. Sexually transmitted infections treatment guidelines, 2021 recommendations and reports. MMWR 2021 Jul 23;70(4):1-187.

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