Use of fluoroquinolones for empirical management of febrile neutropenia in pediatric cancer patients

Alison Freifeld, Philip Pizzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Background. Empiric antibiotic therapy has become a standard of care for the febrile neutropenic patient. Many clinical trials over the previous three decades have demonstrated that a variety of antibiotic combinations and more recently potent antibiotic monotherapies may preserve the patient through the critical time of fever and neutropenia. Recently attempts have been made to identify 'low risk' patients who may not require traditional, intensive, hospitalized intravenous antimicrobial therapy. Therefore the need for new treatment alternatives for the febrile neutropenic pediatric cancer patient in particular revolves around the desire for less complex regimens, agents with minimal toxicity and expense and the option of an oral formulation for outpatient management. Objective. Fluoroquinolones, especially ciprofloxacin and ofloxacin, are examined in this paper as potential oral alternatives for managing the low risk neutropenic pediatric cancer patient population. Attention must be paid to their antibacterial spectra, however, and in some cases fluoroquinolones should be combined with a second agent for additional Gram-positive coverage. Results. Several studies, including one ongoing trial at the National Cancer Institute, have shown the potential benefits of oral fluoroquinolone therapy among low risk febrile neutropenic patients. Joint complaints in children after ciprofloxacin therapy in the National Cancer Institute trial thus far have been minimal, reversible and felt to be unrelated to ciprofloxacin treatment. Conclusion. The use of outpatient therapy, such as the fluoroquinolones, to manage febrile neutropenic episodes must be approached with caution and should be undertaken only in selected low risk patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-146
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Infectious Disease Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Fluoroquinolones
  • cancer
  • empiric treatment
  • febrile neutropenia
  • pediatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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