Antibiotic treatment for 6 days versus 12 days in patients with severe cellulitis: a multicentre randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, non-inferiority trial

D. R. Cranendonk*, B. C. Opmeer, M. A. van Agtmael, J. Branger, K. Brinkman, A. I.M. Hoepelman, F. N. Lauw, J. J. Oosterheert, A. H. Pijlman, S. U.C. Sankatsing, R. Soetekouw, J. Veenstra, P. J. de Vries, J. M. Prins, W. J. Wiersinga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: To investigate whether antibiotic treatment of 6 days' duration is non-inferior to treatment for 12 days in patients hospitalized for cellulitis. Methods: This multicentre, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, non-inferiority trial enrolled adult patients hospitalized for severe cellulitis who were treated with intravenous flucloxacillin. At day 6 participants with symptom improvement who were afebrile were randomized between an additional 6 days of oral flucloxacillin or placebo in a 1:1 ratio, stratified for diabetes and hospital. The primary outcome was cure by day 14, without relapse by day 28. Secondary outcomes included a modified cure assessment and relapse rate by day 90. Results: Between August 2014 and June 2017, 151 of 248 included participants were randomized. The intention-to-treat population consisted of 76 and 73 participants allocated to 12 and 6 days of antibiotic therapy, respectively (mean age 62 years, 67% males, 24% diabetics); 38/76 (50.0%) and 36/73 (49.3%) were cured in the 12- and 6-day groups respectively (ARR 0.7 percentage points, 95%CI: –15.0 to 16.3). Cure rates were 56/76 (73.7%) and 49/73 (67.1%) with the modified cure assessment (ARR 6.6, 95%CI: –8.0 to 20.8). After initial cure without relapse, day 90 relapse rates were higher in the 6-day group (6% versus 24%, p < 0.05). Conclusions: Given the wide confidence intervals, we can neither confirm nor refute our hypothesis that 6 days of therapy is non-inferior to 12 days of therapy. However, a 6-day course resulted in significantly more frequent relapses by day 90. These findings require confirmation in future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)606-612
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Issue number5
Early online date1 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

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