One dose ceftriaxone vs. ten days of amoxicillin/clavulanate therapy for acute otitis media: clinical efficacy and change in nasopharyngeal flora

Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1999 May;18(5):403-9. doi: 10.1097/00006454-199905000-00002.


Objective: To compare the efficacy and the safety of a single intramuscular dose of ceftriaxone, 50 mg/kg, vs. a 10-day course of amoxicillin/clavulanate (amox/clav) therapy, 80 mg/kg/day of amoxicillin: 10 mg/kg/day of clavulanate in three divided doses, in children with acute otitis media (AOM) and to evaluate the changes in nasopharyngeal flora after treatment.

Methods: In a prospective, comparative, open randomized, multicenter trial, children were scheduled to return for visits on Days 12 to 14 (main end point) and Days 28 to 42 after the beginning of treatment for AOM. A nasopharyngeal swab for bacterial culture was obtained before the treatment and at Days 12 to 14.

Results: Between February, 1995, and May, 1996, 513 children with a mean age of 14.2 +/- 6.7 months were enrolled. All the patients were evaluable for the safety and intent-to-treat analyses and 463 for the per protocol efficacy. At Days 12 to 14 clinical success was obtained in 186 of the 235 children (79%) given ceftriaxone and in 188 of the 228 children (82.5%) treated with amox/clav. Among the patients with clinical success on Days 12 to 14, the success was maintained at Days 28 to 42 for 108 of 183 (59%) patients in the ceftriaxone group and 103 of 187 (55%) patients in the amox/clav group. Before the antibiotic treatment the percentages of children carrying Streptococcus pneumoniae (59.1%), Haemophilus influenzae (39.4%), Moraxella catarrhalis (55.7%) and the rate of penicillin-resistant S. pneumoniae (52.2%) were comparable between the 2 groups. At Days 12 to 14 the carriage of S. pneumoniae and M. catarrhalis was significantly different between the patients treated with ceftriaxone, 43.9 and 42.2, respectively, and the patients treated with amox/clav, 17.4 and 11.1%, respectively. Among the children carrying S. pneumoniae at Days 12 to 14, the percentage of penicillin-resistant strains reached 63.4% in the ceftriaxone treatment group and 83.0% in the amox/clav treatment group, (P = 0.02). Adverse events (mainly diarrhea) related to the study medication were reported more frequently (P < 0.0001) in the amox/clav treatment group.

Conclusions: In an area with a high rate of penicillin-resistant S. pneumoniae, a single dose of ceftriaxone is as efficient as a 10-day course of amox/clav in the treatment of AOM in young children. There was for the two regimens an increased rate of penicillin-resistant strains among the pneumococci carried, whereas the chance for a child to carry a penicillin resistant S. pneumoniae did not increase after treatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Amoxicillin-Potassium Clavulanate Combination / administration & dosage
  • Amoxicillin-Potassium Clavulanate Combination / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Ceftriaxone / administration & dosage
  • Ceftriaxone / therapeutic use*
  • Cephalosporins / administration & dosage
  • Cephalosporins / therapeutic use*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Haemophilus influenzae / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Moraxella catarrhalis / isolation & purification
  • Nasopharynx / microbiology
  • Otitis Media with Effusion / drug therapy*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / isolation & purification
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Cephalosporins
  • Amoxicillin-Potassium Clavulanate Combination
  • Ceftriaxone