PARIS — To date, studies of antibiotic course length for treating urinary tract infections in men have been patchy and retrospective.

Through recent randomized trials, guidelines can now be based on more solid data.

In sum, to maximize clinical and microbiologic success, a nonfebrile urinary tract infection is treated for 7 days, and a febrile urinary tract infection is treated for a minimum of 14 days.

At the 116th conference of the French urology association, Matthieu Lafaurie, MD, of the Multidisciplinary Infectious Diseases Unit U21, Saint Louis Hospital, Paris, reviewed the literature on this subject.

Guidelines for Men

The European Association of Urology (EAU) made its position clear in a text updated in 2022. It stated, “cystitis in men that does not affect the prostate is rare and should be classed as a complicated infection. Therefore, treatment with antimicrobial drugs that penetrate the prostate tissue is needed in men presenting with symptoms of a urinary tract infection.” In its classification of prostatitis, the National Institutes of Health distinguishes between acute prostatitis (symptoms of a urinary tract infection; stage I) and chronic prostatitis (recurrent infection with the same microorganism; stage II).

Although the French-language Society of Infectious Diseases distinguishes between a febrile and nonfebrile urinary tract infections in males, the academic body does not take into account whether the patient has a fever when determining which antibiotic should be given and how long the course should be: a minimum of 14 days’ treatment is recommended when opting for fluoroquinolones, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (co-trimoxazole) or injectable beta-lactam antibiotics, and at least 21 days is recommended for other drugs or in cases in which there is an underlying urologic condition that has not been treated.

Yet the EAU recommends treating cystitis with antibiotics for at least 7 days, preferably with trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole or fluoroquinolone, depending on the results of sensitivity testing. For acute prostatitis, the length of treatment with fluoroquinolones should be at least 14 days.

Nonfebrile Infections

Participation of men in studies of the treatment of complicated cystitis is variable; at most only 10% of parients in such trials are men. There are few data specific to men with nonfebrile urinary tract infections, and most studies are retrospective and involve small cohorts. One of these is a community-based study (2013–2014) that involved 422 men aged 18–104 years who presented with nonfebrile urinary tract infection (acute dysuria, frequency of urination and/or urgency of urination, temperature <38° C, no general symptoms). Antibiotic treatment was prescribed in 60% of cases. In more than 55% of cases, the length of the courseof treatment was 1–7 days. Treatment was with co-trimoxazole, quinolones, and nitrofurantoin.

Another observational retrospective study showed benefit with nitrofurantoin (50 mg/8 h in 94% of cases; 69 patients) and pivmecillinam (200 mg/8 h in 65% of cases; 200 mg/12 h in 30% of patients; 57 patients) in treating lower urinary tract infections in men. The median treatment duration was 7 days. The failure rate was 1.4% and 12%, respectively, for these treatments. Compared to the so-called gold-standard treatment, trimethoprim (10 days/800 mg/12 h; 45 patients), the recurrence rate was 11% and 26% for nitrofurantoin and pivmecillinam, vs 7% for trimethoprim. The most significant relapse rate with pivmecillinam was when treatment was given for fewer than 7 days.

This is the only risk factor for further antibiotic treatment and/or recurrence. There was no significant difference between the three drugs with regard to other parameters (urinary tract infection symptoms, benign prostatic hypertrophy, prostate cancer, gram-positive bacteria, etc).

Another retrospective, European study of nitrofurantoin that was published in 2015 included 485 patients (100 mg x2/day in 71% of cases). Clinical cure was defined as an absence of signs or symptoms of a urinary tract infection for 14 days after stopping nitrofurantoin, without use of other antibiotics. The cure rate was 77%. Better efficacy was achieved for patients with gram-negative (vs gram-positive) bacteria. The treatment duration did not differ significantly (clinical success was achieved when the treatment was taken for 8.6 ± 3.6 days; clinical failure occurred when the treatment was taken for 9.3 ± 6.9 days; P = .28).

Regarding pivmecillinam, a retrospective 2010–2016 study involved 21,864 adults and included 2524 men who had been treated empirically with pivmecillinam (400 mg x 3/day) for significant bacteriuria (E coli) and a lower urinary tract infection. The researchers concluded that for men, the success rate was identical whether the treatment lasted 5 or 7 days.

An American community-based (urologists, primary care physicians, general medicine services) retrospective cohort study involving 573 men with nonfebrile lower urinary tract infections was conducted from 2011–2015. The patients received antibiotic treatment with fluoroquinolones (69.7%), co-trimoxazole (21.2%), nitrofurantoin (5.3%), trimethoprim, beta-lactam antibiotics, or aminoglycosides. No clinical advantage was seen in treating men with urinary tract infections for longer than 7 days.

There are some data on the use of fosfomycin. In an observational retrospective study, 25 men of 52 male adults with leukocyturia and E coli >105, ESBL, were treated with fosfomycin trometamol 3 g on days 1, 3, 5. Clinical and microbiologic success was achieved for 94% and 78.5%, respectively. No distinction was made between the sexes.

These results were confirmed in a retrospective, observational study involving 18 men (of a total of 75 adults) with no fever or hyperleukocytosis who received the same fosfomycin trometamol regimen. The rate of clinical cure or sterile urine microscopy and culture was 69% at 13 days. The risk failure factor was, as expected, infection with K pneumoniae, which was slightly susceptible to fosfomycin, unlike E coli.

The most recent study in this field was published in 2021. It was also the first randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. In all, 272 men older than 18 years were prescribed either ciprofloxacin or co-trimoxazole for 7 to 14 days to treat a nonfebrile urinary tract infection. To be elibible for the trial, patients were required to have disease of new onset with at least one of the following symptoms: dysuria, frequency of urination, urgency of urination, hematuria, costovertebral angle tenderness, or perineal, flank, or suprapubic pain. Urine microscopy and culture were not necessary; the approach was wholly symptomatic. Treatment was prescribed for 7 days. Patients were randomly allocated on day 8 to receive treatment for the following 7 days (molecule or placebo). The primary outcome was resolution of clinical symptoms of urinary tract infection by 14 days after completion of active antibiotic treatment. In an intention-to-treat or per-protocol analysis, the difference in efficacy between the two molecules was largely below the required 10%. The treatment duration noninferiority margin was 7 days, compared with 14 days.

“In 2022, with regard to the duration of treatment of nonfebrile urinary tract infections in men, the not completely irrefutable evidence does, however, stack up in favor of the possibility of a 7-day or even 5-day course,” pointed out Lafaurie. “Fluoroquinolones [such as] ofloxacin, levofloxacin, ciprofloxacin, as well as co-trimoxazole and other antibiotics, such as pivmecillinam, nitrofurantoin, or fosfomycin trometamol, can be used, despite the fact that they pass less easily into the prostate ― a not-so-obvious benefit.”

Febrile Infections

In terms of febrile urinary tract infections, a single-center, prospective, open-label study from 2003 involved 72 male inpatients who were randomly to receive treatment either for 2 weeks or 4 weeks. Treatment consisted of ciprofloxacin 500 mg x 2/day. This study provided most of the evidence to justify the recommended 14-day antibiotic course.

Another noninferiority, randomized, placebo-controlled study published in 2017 compared 7- and 14-day treatment with ciprofloxacin 500 mg to placebo twice per week. In men, 7 days of antibiotic therapy was inferior to 14 days during a short-term follow-up but was not inferior during a longer follow-up.

A decisive study, which is currently in the submission phase, could silence debate. “In our noninferiority, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, we have enrolled 240 men over the age of 18 years with a febrile infection documented by a fever of 38° C or more, clinical signs of infection, and leukocyturia at least above 10/mm3 and with symptoms lasting less than 3 months,” said Lafaurie, the trial coordinator.

The primary outcome for efficacy was microbiologic and clinical success after 6 weeks. Patients received either ofloxacin, ceftriaxone, or cefotaxime (two third-generation cephalosporins in the beta-lactam family).

“We clearly show that for a 7-day course, the clinical success rate is 55.7%, and for a 14-day course, this goes up to 77.6%, with no difference in terms of adverse effects or selection of resistant bacteria. The predictive factors for success are a 14-day treatment and being under the age of 50 years,” said Lafaurie.

“Unlike nonfebrile urinary tract infections in men, a 7-day course is insufficient for patients with febrile urinary tract infections, and a minimum of 14 days is required to achieve clinical and microbiological success,” he concluded.

This article was translated from the Medscape French edition.

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