Cystitis in Females Differential Diagnoses
- Author: John L Brusch, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD more...
Occult pyelonephritis occurs in 15-50% (or more) of all urinary tract infections (UTIs), based on several studies on localization of organisms within the urinary tract. This usually occurs in older women. It appears that these patients are unable to mount a fever or develop an elevated white count or costovertebral angle (CVA) tenderness. These patients may present with an unexplained fall or a change in mental status.
Postmenopausal women may also experience senile urethritis. In addition to urinary burning, frequency, and urgency, these patients may complain of vaginal and vulvar itching and discharge. Physical examination reveals a dry, pale vaginal epithelium and eversion of the urethral mucosa. Senile urethritis responds to topical estrogen therapy.
The differential diagnosis for infectious causes of sterile pyuria includes perinephric abscess, urethral syndrome, renal tuberculosis, and fungal infections of the urinary tract system. Noninfectious causes of pyuria include the following:
Uric acid and hypercalcemic nephropathy
Lithium and heavy metal toxicity
Sarcoidosis and other granulomatous diseases (eg, tuberculosis)
Polycystic kidney disease
Renal transplant rejection
Any periurethral process
Consider UTI in any condition involving pain the flank and back or pain in the abdomen and pelvis. Also consider cervicitis and Chlamydia infection. Do not assume that a sexually active female with dysuria has a UTI without first excluding the possibility of sexually transmitted disease–related cervicitis, vaginitis, or pelvic inflammatory disease.
UTIs in pregnancy have potentially adverse outcomes for both the mother and the fetus. Obtain a urine culture in all pregnant patients with suspected UTI, as the results may provide the physician or the follow-up physician with valuable information if the patient does not respond as expected to treatment. Pyuria and bacteriuria are always treated during pregnancy, regardless of whether symptoms are present.
Patients with diabetes mellitus are at increased risk for complicated UTIs. Diagnostic considerations include the following:
Renal and perirenal abscess
Older patients who appear toxic are more likely to have obstruction complicating their UTI. Obtain a structural study to rule out this possibility.
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Patients with complicated cystitis who can tolerate oral therapy may be treated with the following options:
Patients who cannot tolerate oral therapy as outlined above or patients with infection that is suspected to be due to resistant organisms should be treated with parenteral therapy, as follows:
Parenteral therapy can be switched to oral therapy once clinical improvement is observed.
Parenteral therapy can be switched to oral therapy once clinical improvement is observed.