Optimizing the diagnostic work-up of acute uncomplicated urinary tract infections

BMC Fam Pract. 2008 Dec 8;9:64. doi: 10.1186/1471-2296-9-64.


Background: Most diagnostic tests for acute uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) have been previously studied in so-called single-test evaluations. In practice, however, clinicians use more than one test in the diagnostic work-up. Since test results carry overlapping information, results from single-test studies may be confounded. The primary objective of the Amsterdam Cystitis/Urinary Tract Infection Study (ACUTIS) is to determine the (additional) diagnostic value of relevant tests from patient history and laboratory investigations, taking into account their mutual dependencies. Consequently, after suitable validation, an easy to use, multivariable diagnostic rule (clinical index) will be derived.

Methods: Women who contact their GP with painful and/or frequent micturition undergo a series of possibly relevant tests, consisting of patient history questions and laboratory investigations. Using urine culture as the reference standard, two multivariable models (diagnostic indices) will be generated: a model which assumes that patients attend the GP surgery and a model based on telephone contact only. Models will be made more robust using the bootstrap. Discrimination will be visualized in high resolution histograms of the posterior UTI probabilities and summarized as 5th, 10th, 25th 50th, 75th, 90th, and 95th centiles of these, Brier score and the area under the receiver operating characteristics curve (ROC) with 95% confidence intervals. Using the regression coefficients of the independent diagnostic indicators, a diagnostic rule will be derived, consisting of an efficient set of tests and their diagnostic values. The course of the presenting complaints is studied using 7-day patient diaries. To learn more about the natural history of UTIs, patients will be offered the opportunity to postpone the use of antibiotics.

Discussion: We expect that our diagnostic rule will allow efficient diagnosis of UTIs, necessitating the collection of diagnostic indicators with proven added value. GPs may use the rule (preferably after suitable validation) to estimate UTI probabilities for women with different combinations of test results. Finally, in a subcohort, an attempt is made to identify which indicators (including antibiotic treatment) are useful to prognosticate recovery from painful and/or frequent micturition.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • ROC Curve
  • Urinary Tract Infections / diagnosis*
  • Urinary Tract Infections / epidemiology