PHM15: Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Management in Febrile Infants


Drs. Pate and Engel presented a hot topic in pediatric hospital medicine, sparking fruitful conversation about current evidence, identified gaps, and controversies regarding the management of febrile infants with urinary tract infections. After the American Academy of Pediatrics published the updated clinical guideline in 2011, controversies about radioimaging, duration of treatment, and pursuit of laboratory evaluations arose. These controversies continue today, and value and gold standard tests are now being questioned. Should urine culture truly be the gold standard to define a UTI?

The current evidence (applying to 2 month-2 years) in a nutshell includes:

  • Oral and parental antibiotics are equally efficacious,
  • Duration of treatment is a wide range of 7-14 days,
  • Positive UA indicating inflammation/infection and a culture >50,000 uropathogens/ml is needed to make the diagnosis, and
  • Febrile infants with first UTI should get a renal ultrasound; only if the ultrasound is abnormal should patients get a Voiding Cystourethrogram (VCUG).

Since the guideline was published in 2011, there has been continued disagreement between pediatricians and pediatric urologists. When thinking about high-value care, what value is added by doing the renal ultrasound and/or VCUG? The research over the last couple of years shows that although there is concern that UTIs lead to renal scarring and chronic kidney disease, in the absence of structural kidney abnormalities, recurrent UTIs cause at most 0.3% of chronic kidney disease. The takehome point from the 2014 RIVUR study is:

  • The treatment group had significantly higher rates of resistance organisms (63% ppx 19% placebo).
  • The NNT with prophylaxis in children with VUR is 9 children for 2 years to prevent 1 UTI, or 6570 days of antibiotics to prevent one 7-14 day course.

The RIVUR study raised more questions:

  • Is there a difference in outcome if a child had concurrent bacteremia?
    • There is no significant difference in clinical presentation between an isolated UTI and an infant with bacteremia. Those patients with bacteremia received longer duration of parenteral antibiotics, but the number of days were highly variable and outcomes were excellent overall regardless.
  • How accurate is UA in the diagnosis of urinary tract infections in infants less than 3 months of age?
    • Urinalysis in those infants
  • Could inflammatory markers accurately identify infants at high risk for more severe disease?
    • Not really.

Guidelines were reviewed, controversies were discussed, and questions were proposed. The session ended with tools to take home to help change hospital practice, and quality-UTI projects metrics were shared, as this is the next AAP VIP project about to launch.

Key Takeaways:

  • The guidelines represent a living and dynamic tool that integrates the best evidence we have.
  • There is new research evolving and lessons to be learned.

Dr. Hopkins is an academic pediatric hospitalist and instructor at All Children's Hospital Johns Hopkins Medicine, St. Petersburg, Fla.​

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