Fluoroquinolones vs beta-lactams for empirical treatment of immunocompetent patients with skin and soft tissue infections: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Mayo Clin Proc. 2006 Dec;81(12):1553-66. doi: 10.4065/81.12.1553.


Objective: To compare the effectiveness and safety of fluoroquinolones with beta-lactams in the treatment of patients with skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs).

Methods: We searched the PubMed database, Cochrane Database of Controlled Trials, and references of relevant articles for study reports published between January 1980 and February 2006.

Results: Twenty randomized controlled trials that enrolled 4817 patients were included in the analysis. Fluoroquinolones as empirical treatment of patients with SSTIs were more effective than beta-lactams for the clinically evaluable patients (90.4% vs 88.2%; odds ratio [OR], 1.29; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.00-1.66). This was also true in subset analyses of randomized controlled trials that studied ciprofloxacin (OR, 2.49; 95% CI, 1.45-4.26) and for patients with mild to moderate infections (OR, 1.83; 95% CI, 1.13-2.96). In contrast, no difference was found between the compared regimens for patients with moderate to severe infections (OR, 1.12; 95% CI, 0.80-1.55), for patients who did not receive third-generation cephalosporins as the comparator antibiotic (OR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.73-1.34), or for the microbiologically evaluable patients (OR, 1.19; 95% CI, 0.89-1.59). Fluoroquinolones were also associated with more adverse effects (19.2% vs 15.2%; OR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.13-1.57).

Conclusion: The high proportion of successfully treated patients in the compared groups of antibiotics and the development of more adverse effects associated with fluoroquinolone use suggest that these antibiotics do not have substantial advantages compared with beta-lactams for empirical treatment of patients with SSTIs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Fluoroquinolones / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Skin Diseases, Bacterial / drug therapy*
  • Skin Diseases, Bacterial / microbiology
  • Soft Tissue Infections / drug therapy*
  • Soft Tissue Infections / microbiology
  • beta-Lactams / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • beta-Lactams