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Arch Intern Med. 1999 Jan 11;159(1):53-8.

Oral vs intravenous ciprofloxacin in the initial empirical management of severe pyelonephritis or complicated urinary tract infections: a prospective randomized clinical trial.

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Ospedale Regionale, Locarno, Switzerland.



There are few data on the efficacy of oral antibiotics in the initial empirical management of severe forms of urinary tract infection (UTI).


In a multicenter, prospective, randomized trial we compared oral (500 mg twice daily) vs intravenous ciprofloxacin (200 mg twice daily) in the initial empirical management of hospitalized patients with serious forms of UTI. Exclusion criteria were severe sepsis, inability to take oral medication, or the presence of obstruction or renal foci of suppuration. The study population included 66 women with pyelonephritis, 43 patients with community-acquired UTIs, and 32 patients with hospital-acquired UTIs. The frequency of bacteremia was 28 (42%) of 66 in the patients with pyelonephritis and 25 (33%) of 75 in those with complicated UTIs. Seventy-two patients were randomized to treatment with oral and 69 to intravenous ciprofloxacin.


There were no infection-related deaths and no patients required an early change of antibiotics because of worsening clinical status during the initial empirical phase of treatment. The mean duration of fever was 1.7 days in patients treated by the oral vs 1.9 days in patients treated by the intravenous route (P = .15). The rates of microbiological failure (3% in the oral vs 2% in the intravenous treatment group) and of unsatisfactory clinical response (4% oral vs 3% intravenous) were low. A treatment change was eventually required in 14% of the patients assigned to the oral and 7% of the patients assigned to the intravenous regimen, mainly because of the isolation of enterococci or ciprofloxacin-resistant organisms in pretherapy urine specimens.


In the hospital setting, oral ciprofloxacin is as effective as the intravenous regimen in the initial empirical management of serious UTIs, including bacteremic forms, in patients without severe sepsis, obstruction, or renal foci of suppuration. The efficacy of the oral regimen indicates a potential use for ciprofloxacin in outpatient treatment of a subset of patients currently hospitalized on account of disease severity.

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