Urine cultures at the onset of febrile neutropenia rarely impact antibiotic management in asymptomatic adult cancer patients Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE:There is a paucity of data regarding the utility of routine urine cultures in adults with febrile neutropenia (FN) without urinary symptoms receiving protocolised antibiotics. This is reflected by inconsistent recommendations in international and regional FN guidelines. We addressed this issue by retrospectively reviewing the impact of routine urine cultures on antibiotic management in haematology cancer inpatients at a tertiary hospital. METHODS:All haematology inpatients over a 5-year period (2011-2015) were retrospectively reviewed for episodes of FN (neutrophil count < 0.5 × 109/L and fever > 37.5 °C). For each episode, demographic data, urinary tract symptoms and signs (absence of which was termed 'asymptomatic'), urinalysis and urine culture results, antibiotic therapy and duration, and patient outcomes were collected. A urine culture was considered positive if > 105 colony forming units (CFU)/L were detected. Empiric antibiotic therapy for FN consisted of intravenous piperacillin/tazobactam in stable patients, with the addition of vancomycin and a single dose of gentamicin if systemically compromised. RESULTS:Four hundred and thirty-three episodes of FN were identified in 317 patients. Urine cultures were performed in 362 (84%) episodes. Cultures were positive in 9 of 48 (19%) symptomatic episodes versus 8 of 314 (2.5%) asymptomatic episodes (RR = 7.4, p < 0.0001). A change in antibiotic management due a positive urine culture occurred in only 5 episodes (1.4%): 3 of 48 (6.3%) symptomatic and 2 of 314 (0.6%) asymptomatic episodes respectively (RR = 9.8, p = 0.01). CONCLUSION:Routine urine cultures in FN patients without urinary symptoms who are already receiving protocolised broad spectrum antibiotics rarely impact subsequent antibiotic management.


  • Grigg, Sam E
  • Date, Patrick
  • Loh, Zoe
  • Estacio, Ortis
  • Johnson, Douglas F
  • Hawkes, Eliza A
  • Grigg, Andrew

publication date

  • 2019