Fluoroquinolones and tendon disorders

Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2005 Mar;4(2):299-309. doi: 10.1517/14740338.4.2.299.


Fluoroquinolones are the most potent oral antibiotics in clinical use today. Increasingly, these drugs are being prescribed for relatively benign infections and for new categories of patients, including paediatric patients. As their use becomes more frequent, so will the adverse events. This review focuses on a rare but debilitating adverse reaction, the fluoroquinolone-associated tendinopathy. Despite many published case reports and approximately 3500 cases reported to the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Drug Monitoring, little is known about the mechanisms behind this fluoroquinolone-specific toxicity. Data on chemical properties, mode of action, pharmacokinetic features, clinical presentation and risk factors in relation to tendon toxicity are discussed and the literature reviewed. As long as the musculoskeletal toxicity cannot be predicted by in vitro or in vivo models and this class of antibiotics is one of the most commonly linked to selection of resistant bacteria, a more prudent use of fluoroquinolones is warranted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Achilles Tendon / drug effects
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Female
  • Fluoroquinolones / adverse effects*
  • Fluoroquinolones / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Rupture, Spontaneous
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Tendinopathy / chemically induced
  • Tendinopathy / epidemiology
  • Tendons / drug effects*


  • Fluoroquinolones