Nitrofurantoin: what is the evidence for current UK guidance?
Three days of nitrofurantoin at 100 mg twice daily is recommended as first-line treatment for uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI) in evidence-based guidelines across the UK. A review of international guidelines shows that the evidence base has been interpreted in very different ways. UK guidelines are unusual in promoting short (3 day) courses, and we find little direct evidence to support this. Although ‘short’ courses of antibiotics for other agents may provide optimum balance between providing effective treatment whilst reducing selective pressure driving resistance amongst colonizing microbial flora, it remains unclear that course lengths can be extrapolated to nitrofurantoin. Three days of nitrofurantoin may indeed be a useful intervention in a large group of patients. However, without supporting evidence and because clinical response should be expected to vary widely, it is unclear that establishing and promoting an antibiotic duration for UTI is the best approach to optimizing prescribing in this important area.
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