Inappropriate Management of Asymptomatic Patients with Positive Urine Cultures: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Myrto Eleni Flokas, Nikolaos Andreatos, Michail Alevizakos, Alireza Kalbasi, Pelin Onur, Eleftherios Mylonakis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Background: Mismanagement of asymptomatic patients with positive urine cultures (referred to as asymptomatic bacteriuria [ASB] in the literature) promotes antimicrobial resistance and results in unnecessary antimicrobial-related adverse events and increased health care costs. Methods: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies that reported on the rate of inappropriate ASB treatment published from 2004 to August 2016. The appropriateness of antimicrobial administration was based on guidelines published by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Results: A total of 2142 nonduplicate articles were identified, and among them 30 fulfilled our inclusion criteria. The pooled prevalence of antimicrobial treatment among 4129 cases who did not require treatment was 45% (95% CI, 39-50). Isolation of gram-negative pathogens (odds ratio [OR], 3.58; 95% CI, 2.12-6.06), pyuria (OR, 2.83; 95% CI, 1.9-4.22), nitrite positivity (OR, 3.83; 95% CI, 2.24-6.54), and female sex (OR, 2.11; 95% CI, 1.46-3.06) increased the odds of receiving treatment. The rates of treatment were higher in studies with ≥100 000 cfu/mL cutoff values compared with <10 000 cfu/mL for bacterial growth (P,. 011). The implementation of educational and organizational interventions designed to eliminate the overtreatment of ASB resulted in a median absolute risk reduction of 33% (rangeARR, 16-36%, medianRRR, 53%; rangeRRR, 25-80%). Conclusion: The mismanagement of ASB remains extremely frequent. Female sex and the overinterpretation of certain laboratory data (positive nitrites, pyuria, isolation of gram-negative bacteria and cultures with higher microbial count) are associated with overtreatment. Even simple stewardship interventions can be particularly effective, and antimicrobial stewardship programs should focus on the challenge of differentiating true urinary tract infection from ASB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberofx207
JournalOpen Forum Infectious Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017


  • antimicrobial
  • intervention
  • urinary tract infection
  • UTI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Infectious Diseases


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