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7.02 Upper Urinary Tract Infection (Pyelonephritis)


The patient has some combination of urinary frequency, urgency, dysuria, flank pain, nausea, fever, and chills. On physical examination, there is tenderness elicited by percussing the costovertebral angle over the kidneys. The urinalysis may help establish the diagnosis with tubular casts of white cells.

What to do:

What not to do:


Although oral antibiotics are usually sufficient treatment for upper UTIs, there is a significant incidence of renal damage and sepsis as sequelae, mandating good followup or admission when necessary. By the same token, lower UTIs can ascend into upper UTIs, or it can be difficult to decide the level of a given UTI, in which case it should be treated as an upper UTI.

Studies have shown tat a 14 day course of oral therapy is highly effective for the woman with clinical evidence of pyelonephritis without sepsis, nausea or vomiting. Quinolones such as ofloxacin (Floxin), ciprofloxacin (Cipro) and norfloxacin (Noroxin) are highly effective and probably the drugs of choice in this setting, except for pregnant women, for whom they are contraindicated. Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra) could also be used, although resistance of 5% to 15% of pathogens may be a more important factor in the selection of therapy for pyelonephritis than for cyctitis.

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from Buttaravoli & Stair: COMMON SIMPLE EMERGENCIES
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Craig Feied, MD
Mark Smith, MD
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