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Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2009 Mar;33(3):194-200. doi: 10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2008.08.004. Epub 2008 Oct 2.

Quinolone-induced arthropathy: an update focusing on new mechanistic and clinical data.

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Institut für Klinische Pharmakologie und Toxikologie, Campus Benjamin Franklin, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


Quinolones possess favourable antibacterial and pharmacokinetic characteristics and are often used as anti-infective agents in adults. They are contraindicated in children and adolescents because they damage weight-bearing joints in juvenile animals. In addition, they possess a tendotoxic potential. Since ciprofloxacin has been used off-label for decades in children and adolescents, it is known today that no pronounced risks for arthropathies or tendinopathies exist in humans. Recently published clinical studies with gatifloxacin in children support this clinical experience. However, a low risk for joint disorders cannot be excluded and tendinopathies are a generally accepted rare adverse effect of quinolones at least in adults. Isolated case reports of arthralgia in children following quinolone therapy have been published and in studies with levofloxacin the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders was significantly greater in levofloxacin-treated patients than in control patients treated with comparator antibiotics. As a consequence, only life-threatening infections for which other antimicrobials cannot be used are possible indications for quinolones in children, for example the use of ciprofloxacin in cystic fibrosis patients with a bronchopulmonary exacerbation, chronic suppurative otitis media caused by Pseudomonas sp., complicated urinary tract infections and enteritis caused by invasive multidrug-resistant pathogens (e.g. Salmonella, Shigella).

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