Objective: To investigate the association between the use of fluoroquinolone agents and the risk of tendinitis in a large population-based case-control study.
Methods: The study was performed by linking automated health databases from the Region of Lombardia, Italy. Cases were patients aged ≥18 years who had a hospital discharge diagnosis of non-traumatic tendinitis in 2002–3. For each case, up to five controls were randomly selected among those eligible for inclusion in the study. A conditional logistic regression model was used to estimate the odds ratio of tendinitis associated with the current, recent and past use of fluoroquinolones. Odds ratios were adjusted for exposure to other antibacterials and other drugs.
Results: 22 194 cases and 104 906 controls met the inclusion criteria. Current use of fluoroquinolones significantly increased the risk of tendon disorders as a whole (odds ratio [OR] = 1.7; 95% CI 1.4, 2.0), tendon rupture (OR = 1.3; 95% CI 1.0, 1.8) and rupture of the Achilles’ tendon (OR = 4.1; 95% CI 1.8, 9.6). Concomitant use of corticosteroids and fluoroquinolones increased the risk of both tendon rupture (OR = 3.1; 95% CI 1.5, 6.3) and rupture of the Achilles’ tendon (OR = 43.2; 95% CI 5.5, 341.1).
Discussion: Evidence that exposure to fluoroquinolones is associated with the sudden occurrence of tendinitis is supported by this large population-based study. We can estimate that a single case of rupture of the Achilles’ tendon would occur for every 5958 persons treated with fluoroquinolones (95% CI 2148, 23 085). The corresponding number needed to harm is 979 (95% CI 122, 9172) for patients who concomitantly use corticosteroids and 1638 (95% CI 351, 8843) for those aged >60 years.
Conclusion: Clinicians should be aware of this adverse effect, and the increased risk for fluoroquinolone-associated tendinitis in elderly patients with corticosteroid use must be considered when these agents are prescribed.
National Health Service Fluoroquinolones Index Date Tendon Rupture Tendinitis
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Support for this study came from grants from the Italian Minister of the University and Research (“Fondo d’Ateneo per la Ricerca” portion, year 2005, and PRIN portion, protocol no. 2005068001, year 2005). The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this manuscript.
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