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Fluoroquinolones Are Safe for Use in Pediatric Patients

Three Part Question

In [pediatric patients] do [fluoroquinolones] have an [increased risk of causing arthropathy]?

Clinical Scenario

A pediatric patient presents to the Emergency Department with pyelonephritis. You would like to use a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, but are concerned about its safety in this patient population.

Search Strategy

Medline 1950-5/09 using the OVID interface, Cochrane Library (2009), PubMed clinical queries

[(exp fluoroquinolones or AND (]. LIMIT to human AND English

Search Outcome

52 papers were found of which 3 were relevant to the three part question

Relevant Paper(s)

Author, date and country Patient group Study type (level of evidence) Outcomes Key results Study Weaknesses
Salam, MA
Aug. 1998
120 patients (age 2-15) with shigella diarrhea, randomized to treatment with ciprofloxacin or pivmecillinam for 5 days. Randomized, double-blindedjoint painNo difference between the two groups. Small sample size. Many patients lost to follow up at day 7, 30 and 6 months
arthropathyNo evidence of arthropathy/arthritis in either group at follow-up visits at
Schaad, UB
44 pediatric patients with cystic fibrosis randomized to ciprofloxacin or ciprofloxacin plus amikacinrandomized prospective studyjoint pain1 patient in each group, that resolved without treatmentSmall sample size. No placebo control, both groups received fluoroquinolones. Not blinded. Lack of detailed explanation of joint evaluation.
Church, DA
United States
84 pediatric cystic fibrosis patients (age 5-17) with acute pulmonary exacerbation were randomized to ciprofloxacin or ceftazidime plus tobramycin for 10 days. RCTOverall adverse eventssimilar; 78% for ciprofloxacin, 69% for ceftazidime/tobra. p=.288Small sample size. Special patient population (cystic fibrosis)
Musculoskeletal eventidentical; 22% for ciprofloxacin, 21% for ceftazidime/tobra. p=.845


Fluoroquinolones have been observed to cause arthropathy in juveniles of most animal species. Because of this, they have been used sparingly in children. Most of the human data has come from the use of fluoroquinolones in pediatric cystic fibrosis patients

Clinical Bottom Line

The use of fluorquinolones appears to be safe for use in pediatric patients and does not create an increase risk for the development of arthropathy. The studies are limited, however, due to the small sample size.


  1. Salam MA. Dhar U. Khan WA. Bennish ML Randomised comparison of ciprofloxacin suspension and pivmecillinam for childhood shigellosis Lancet 352(9127):522-7, 1998 Aug 15.
  2. Schaad UB. Wedgwood J. Ruedeberg A. Kraemer R. Hampel B. Ciprofloxacin as antipseudomonal treatment in patients with cystic fibrosis. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. 16(1):106-11; discussion 123-6, 1997 Jan.
  3. Church DA. Kanga JF. Kuhn RJ. Rubio TT. Spohn WA. Stevens JC. Painter BG. Thurberg BE. Haverstock DC. Perroncel RY. Echols RM. Sequential ciprofloxacin therapy in pediatric cystic fibrosis: comparative study vs. ceftazidime/tobramycin in the treatment of acute pulmonary exacerbations he Cystic Fibrosis Study Group. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 16(1):97-105; discussion 123-6, 1997 Jan.