Evaluating the need, timing and best choice of antibiotic therapy for acute otitis media and tonsillopharyngitis infections in children.Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2000 Dec; 19(12 Suppl):S131-40.PI
Deciding whether an antibiotic is necessary, when to begin therapy and selecting an optimal drug is an everyday challenge in clinical practice. In vitro susceptibility testing which determines the minimum concentration necessary for a particular antibiotic to inhibit or kill most strains of a bacterial species and pharmacodynamic modeling are useful but have limitations. The need for antibiotic therapy for acute otitis media (AOM) has been recently questioned. However, explanations for uniformly positive results with many antibiotic and placebo comparative trials include overdiagnosis of AOM at study entry, inclusion of patients with mild or uncomplicated AOM and broad criteria for the definition of clinical success. Recurrent and persistent AOM does not have as favorable a natural history as uncomplicated AOM; children below 2 years of age benefit most from antibiotic therapy. Selecting the best choice among the many antibiotics that can be used to treat AOM has become more complex over the last decade due to escalating antibiotic resistance among the pathogens that cause this infection. Broader spectrum antibiotics such as cefdinir, the newly introduced third generation cephalosporin, have their most prominent use in the treatment of persistent and recurrent AOM. In the early 1950s and 1960s penicillin clearly was the best available agent for the treatment of group A streptococcal (GAS) infections. In the 1970s the situation began to change as cephalosporin antibiotics became available. Superior eradication rates with cephalosporins such as cefdinir have now been well-documented. The leading hypothesis to explain the widening gap in efficacy between penicillin and cephalosporins relates to two major concepts: the presence of copathogens and differential alteration of the normal microbial ecology in the throat as a consequence of the selected therapy. There are positive and negative consequences to early initiation of antibiotic therapy for GAS tonsillopharyngitis. Penicillin has persisting good efficacy in patients older than the age of 12 years and in those who have been ill for >2 days. Shortening therapy for GAS tonsillopharyngitis offers a therapeutic advantage. Cefpodoxime proxetil and cefdinir have a 5-day indication for the treatment of GAS tonsillopharyngitis. Antibiotics with lower side effect profile, infrequent dosing, good palatability in suspension formulation and efficacy with short duration of treatment may lead to better outcomes because noncompliance often results in failed therapy, persistence of infection and morbidity.