An update on the management of urinary tract infections in the era of antimicrobial resistance

Postgrad Med. 2017 Mar;129(2):242-258. doi: 10.1080/00325481.2017.1246055. Epub 2016 Oct 21.


Urinary tract infections (UTIs) caused by antibiotic-resistant Gram-negative bacteria are a growing concern due to limited therapeutic options. Gram-negative bacteria, specifically Enterobacteriaceae, are common causes of both community-acquired and hospital acquired UTIs. These organisms can acquire genes that encode for multiple antibiotic resistance mechanisms, including extended-spectrum-lactamases (ESBLs), AmpC- β -lactamase, and carbapenemases. The assessment of suspected UTI includes identification of characteristic symptoms or signs, urinalysis, dipstick or microscopic tests, and urine culture if indicated. UTIs are categorized according to location (upper versus lower urinary tract) and severity (uncomplicated versus complicated). Increasing rates of antibiotic resistance necessitate judicious use of antibiotics through the application of antimicrobial stewardship principles. Knowledge of the common causative pathogens of UTIs including local susceptibility patterns are essential in determining appropriate empiric therapy. The recommended first-line empiric therapies for acute uncomplicated bacterial cystitis in otherwise healthy adult nonpregnant females is a 5-day course of nitrofurantion or a 3-g single dose of fosfomycin tromethamine. Second-line options include fluoroquinolones and β-lactams, such as amoxicillin-clavulanate. Current treatment options for UTIs due to AmpC- β -lactamase-producing organisms include fosfomycin, nitrofurantion, fluoroquinolones, cefepime, piperacillin-tazobactam and carbapenems. In addition, treatment options for UTIs due to ESBLs-producing Enterobacteriaceae include nitrofurantion, fosfomycin, fluoroquinolones, cefoxitin, piperacillin-tazobactam, carbapenems, ceftazidime-avibactam, ceftolozane-tazobactam, and aminoglycosides. Based on identification and susceptibility results, alternatives to carbapenems may be used to treat mild-moderate UTIs caused by ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae. Ceftazidime-avibactam, colistin, polymixin B, fosfomycin, aztreonam, aminoglycosides, and tigecycline are treatment options for UTIs caused by carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE). Treatment options for UTIs caused by multidrug resistant (MDR)-Pseudomonas spp. include fluoroquinolones, ceftazidime, cefepime, piperacillin-tazobactam, carbapenems, aminoglycosides, colistin, ceftazidime-avibactam, and ceftolozane-tazobactam. The use of fluoroquinolones for empiric treatment of UTIs should be restricted due to increased rates of resistance. Aminoglycosides, colistin, and tigecycline are considered alternatives in the setting of MDR Gram-negative infections in patients with limited therapeutic options.

Keywords: Antibiotic resistance; Enterobacteriaceae; Gram-negative bacteria; cystitis; pyelonephritis; urinary tract infections.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aminoglycosides / pharmacology
  • Aminoglycosides / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / pharmacology
  • Comorbidity
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial / physiology*
  • Fluoroquinolones / pharmacology
  • Fluoroquinolones / therapeutic use
  • Fosfomycin / pharmacology
  • Fosfomycin / therapeutic use
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Minocycline / pharmacology
  • Minocycline / therapeutic use
  • Nitrofurantoin / pharmacology
  • Nitrofurantoin / therapeutic use
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Urinary Tract Infections / diagnosis
  • Urinary Tract Infections / drug therapy*
  • beta-Lactamases / genetics
  • beta-Lactamases / pharmacology*
  • beta-Lactams / pharmacology
  • beta-Lactams / therapeutic use


  • Aminoglycosides
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • beta-Lactams
  • Fosfomycin
  • Nitrofurantoin
  • AmpC beta-lactamases
  • beta-Lactamases
  • carbapenemase
  • Minocycline