Efficacy and safety of intravenous ceftriaxone at home versus intravenous flucloxacillin in hospital for children with cellulitis (CHOICE): a single-centre, open-label, randomised, controlled, non-inferiority trial

Lancet Infect Dis. 2019 May;19(5):477-486. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(18)30729-1. Epub 2019 Mar 7.


Background: Outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy in children is common despite no evidence of its efficacy or safety from clinical trials. We aimed to compare the efficacy and safety of intravenous antibiotic therapy at home with that of standard treatment in hospital for children with moderate to severe cellulitis.

Methods: The Cellulitis at Home or Inpatient in Children from the Emergency Department (CHOICE) trial was a randomised, controlled, non-inferiority trial in children aged 6 months to 18 years who presented to the emergency department at The Royal Children's Hospital (Melbourne, VIC, Australia) with uncomplicated moderate to severe cellulitis. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either intravenous ceftriaxone (50 mg/kg once daily) at home or intravenous flucloxacillin (50 mg/kg every 6 h) in hospital with web-based randomisation, stratified by age and periorbital cellulitis. The primary outcome was treatment failure, which was defined as no clinical improvement or occurrence of an adverse event, resulting in a change in empiric antibiotics within 48 h of the first dose. Secondary outcomes included adverse events and acquisition of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Outcomes were assessed in all randomised participants with outcome data (intention-to-treat population) and in all individuals who received treatment as allocated and did not have any major protocol violations (per-protocol population). For home treatment to be non-inferior to hospital treatment, the difference between groups in the proportion of children with treatment failure in the intention-to-treat population had to be less than 15%. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT02334124.

Findings: Between Jan 9, 2015, and June 15, 2017, we screened 1135 children for eligibility, of whom 190 were randomly assigned to receive ceftriaxone at home (n=95) or flucloxacillin in hospital (n=95). The intention-to-treat analysis comprised 188 children (93 in the home group and 95 in the hospital group) because two children in the home group were found to be ineligible after randomisation and were excluded. Treatment failure occurred in two (2%) children in the home group and in seven (7%) children in the hospital group (risk difference -5·2%, 95% CI -11·3 to 0·8, p=0·088). In the per-protocol analysis, treatment failure occurred in one (1%) of 89 children in the home group and in seven (8%) of 91 children in the hospital group (-6·5%, -12·4 to -0·7). Fewer children treated at home than in hospital had an adverse event (two [2%] vs ten [11%]; p=0·048). There was no difference between groups in rates of nasal acquisition of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or gastrointestinal acquisition of extended-spectrum β-lactamase-producing bacteria or Clostridium difficile after 3 months.

Interpretation: Home treatment with intravenous ceftriaxone is not inferior to treatment in hospital with intravenous flucloxacillin for children with cellulitis. The standard of care for the intravenous treatment of uncomplicated cellulitis in children should be home or outpatient care when feasible.

Funding: The Royal Children's Hospital Foundation and Murdoch Children's Research Institute.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Australia
  • Ceftriaxone / administration & dosage*
  • Ceftriaxone / adverse effects
  • Cellulitis / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Floxacillin / administration & dosage*
  • Floxacillin / adverse effects
  • Home Care Services, Hospital-Based*
  • Hospitalization*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Floxacillin
  • Ceftriaxone

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02334124