Risks associated with the therapeutic use of fluoroquinolones

Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2013 Jul;12(4):497-505. doi: 10.1517/14740338.2013.796362. Epub 2013 May 7.


Introduction: Quinolones are among the most often prescribed antimicrobial agents. Some types of toxicity observed during therapy with these drugs have gained much attention.

Areas covered: Here, we review the potential of the most widely used fluoroquinolones, ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin and moxifloxacin for adverse reactions. The rates of adverse events are similar for quinolones and other antibacterial agents. However, quinolone therapy can be associated with specific risks, which must be weighed against their benefit. In some studies, use of quinolones was associated with Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea. Patients with impairments of the CNS (e.g., epilepsy or arteriosclerosis) should not be treated with quinolones. They should be avoided in patients with known prolongation of the QT interval or other risk factors for tachyarrhythmia. The risk for quinolone-associated tendinopathy is more pronounced among elderly persons, non-obese patients and individuals with concurrent use of glucocorticoids or chronic renal diseases. Quinolones are contraindicated in children because they cause destruction of the immature joint cartilage in animals. The use in paediatrics is restricted to life-threatening infections.

Expert opinion: Changes in the resistance situation and newly recognized adverse reactions require a continuing adjustment of therapeutic recommendations and constant educational efforts in the field of antimicrobial therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / adverse effects*
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
  • Fluoroquinolones / adverse effects*
  • Fluoroquinolones / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Risk


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Fluoroquinolones