Fever at Diagnosis of Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: Are Antibiotics Really Necessary?

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Fever at Diagnosis of Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: Are Antibiotics Really Necessary?

J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2015 Oct;37(7):498-501

Authors: Khurana M, Lee B, Feusner JH

Abstract
INTRODUCTION: With new multidrug-resistant microbes and the paucity of new antibacterial agents, we must identify opportunities to safely minimize antibiotics. Current guidelines encourage empiric antibiotics in febrile patients with chemotherapy-induced neutropenia to reduce infection-related mortalities. No guidelines exist for children with isolated fever at presentation/diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and before starting chemotherapy. This study evaluates the incidence of bacteremia in this subpopulation.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed medical records of 230 consecutive patients under 21 years of age diagnosed with ALL at Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland (CHRCO) from January 2003 through October 2013. We focused on blood cultures obtained within 24 hours of presentation to CHRCO, which was before general anesthesia for a procedure or systemic chemotherapy.
RESULTS: Among 221 patients who met the inclusion criteria, 126 (57%) were febrile and had blood cultures obtained. Two patients (1.6%) had positive blood cultures consistent with bacteremia; 1 had group A β-hemolytic streptococcus and the other had Escherichia coli.
DISCUSSION: Given the rarity of bacteremia in this subpopulation at our institution, we recommend more judicious use of antibiotics in children with isolated fever at time of ALL diagnosis. We encourage other institutions to conduct similar investigations.

PMID: 26376233 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]