Short-course versus conventional length antimicrobial therapy for uncomplicated lower urinary tract infections in children: a meta-analysis of 1279 patients

J Pediatr. 2001 Jul;139(1):93-9. doi: 10.1067/mpd.2001.114698.


Objective: The objective was to compare the efficacies of single-dose, short-course (4 days or less), and standard course (5 days or greater) antimicrobial therapy for uncomplicated childhood cystitis.

Methods: Prospective, randomized, controlled trials comparing 4 days or less of therapy (short courses) with 5 days or more of therapy (conventional therapy) were included if all of the subjects were <18 years of age, the initial infection was documented by urine culture, at least 1 subsequent culture was obtained between 3 and 30 days of enrollment, and some attempt was made to separate upper tract from lower tract infection. Composite differences among treatment groups were compared with a fixed or random effects model, depending on the test for heterogeneity.

Results: Of the 517 citations identified by literature search, 37 were selected for detailed review, and 22 were included in the final meta-analysis. The overall difference in cure rates between short and conventional courses of therapy was significant (6.38%; 95% CI: 1.88% to 10.89%), favoring the conventional course. Similar results were obtained when only studies comparing the same agents in the short and conventional courses were included (7.92%; 95% CI: 2.09% to 13.8%). Short-course amoxicillin was inferior to conventional length course (difference in cure rate, 13%; 95% CI: 4% to 24%); no difference was found between short-course and conventional length courses of trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (difference in cure rate, 6.24%; 95% CI = -3.74% to 16.2%).

Conclusions: We conclude that single-dose amoxicillin is inadequate therapy for uncomplicated cystitis of childhood. Three days of trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole therapy appears to be as effective as conventional length courses of the drug.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Amoxicillin / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Urinary / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cystitis / drug therapy*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Penicillins / therapeutic use
  • Time Factors
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination / therapeutic use
  • Urinary Tract Infections / drug therapy*


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Urinary
  • Penicillins
  • Amoxicillin
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination