Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common drivers of antibiotic use. The minimal effective duration of antibiotic therapy for UTIs is unknown, but any reduction is important to diminish selection pressure for antibiotic resistance, costs, and drug-related side-effects. The aim of this study was to investigate whether an algorithm based on procalcitonin (PCT) and quantitative pyuria reduces antibiotic exposure.
From April 2012 to March 2014, we conducted a factorial design randomized controlled open-label trial. Immunocompetent adults with community-acquired non-catheter-related UTI were enrolled in the emergency department of a tertiary-care 600-bed hospital in northwestern Switzerland. Clinical presentation was used to guide initiation and duration of antibiotic therapy according to current guidelines (control group) or with a PCT-pyuria-based algorithm (PCT-pyuria group).
The primary endpoint was overall antibiotic exposure within 90 days. Secondary endpoints included duration of the initial antibiotic therapy, persistent infection 7 days after end of therapy and 30 days after enrollment, recurrence and rehospitalizations within 90 days.
Overall, 394 patients were screened, 228 met predefined exclusion criteria, 30 declined to participate, and 11 were not eligible. Of these, 125 (76% women) were enrolled in the intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis and 96 patients with microbiologically confirmed UTI constituted the per protocol group; 84 of 125 (67%) patients had a febrile UTI, 28 (22%) had bacteremia, 5 (4%) died, and 3 (2%) were lost to follow-up. Overall antibiotic exposure within 90 days was shorter in the PCT-pyuria group than in the control group (median 7.0 [IQR, 5.0–14.0] vs. 10.0 [IQR, 7.0–16.0] days, P = 0.011) in the ITT analysis. Mortality, rates of persistent infections, recurrences, and rehospitalizations were not different.
A PCT-pyuria-based algorithm reduced antibiotic exposure by 30% when compared to current guidelines without apparent negative effects on clinical outcomes.
Current controlled trials ISRCTN13663741, date applied: 22/05/2012, date assigned: 03/07/2012, last edited: 28/01/2014.
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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12916-015-0347-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.