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CMAJ. 2008 Mar 25;178(7):845-54. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.071157.

Fluoroquinolones compared with beta-lactam antibiotics for the treatment of acute bacterial sinusitis: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

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  • 1Alfa Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Athens, Greece.



The presumed superiority of newer fluoroquinolones for the treatment of acute bacterial sinusitis is based on laboratory data but has not yet been established on clinical grounds.


We performed a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials comparing the effectiveness and safety of fluoroquinolones and beta-lactams in acute bacterial sinusitis.


We identified 8 randomized controlled trials investigating the newer "respiratory" fluoroquinolones moxifloxacin, levofloxacin and gatifloxacin. In the primary effectiveness analysis involving 2133 intention-to-treat patients from 5 randomized controlled trials, the extent of clinical cure and improvement did not differ between fluoroquinolones and beta-lactams (odds ratio [OR] 1.09, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.85-1.39) at the test-of-cure assessment, which varied from 10 to 31 days after the start of treatment. Fluoroquinolones were associated with an increased chance of clinical success among the clinically evaluable patients in all of the randomized controlled trials (OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.03-1.63) and in 4 blinded randomized controlled trials (OR 1.45, 95% CI 1.05-2.00). There was no statistically significant difference between fluoroquinolones and amoxicillin-clavulanate (OR 1.24, 95% CI 0.93-1.65). Eradication or presumed eradication of the pathogens isolated before treatment was more likely with fluoroquinolone treatment than with beta-lactam treatment (OR 2.11, 95% CI 1.09-4.08). In the primary safety analysis, adverse events did not differ between treatments (OR 1.17, 95% CI 0.86-1.59). However, more adverse events occurred with fluoroquinolone use than with beta-lactam use in 2 blinded randomized controlled trials. The associations described here were generally consistent when we included 3 additional studies involving other fluoroquinolones (ciprofloxacin and sparfloxacin) in the analysis.


In the treatment of acute bacterial sinusitis, newer fluoroquinolones conferred no benefit over beta-lactam antibiotics. The use of fluoroquinolones as first-line therapy cannot be endorsed.

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