Asymptomatic bacteriuria, defined as bacteriuria without signs or symptoms of urinary tract infection (UTI), occurs in 17% to 51% of kidney transplant recipients and is thought to increase the risk for a subsequent UTI. No consensus exists on the role of antibiotics for asymptomatic bacteriuria in kidney transplantation.
To assess the benefits and harms of treating asymptomatic bacteriuria in kidney transplant recipients with antimicrobial agents to prevent symptomatic UTI, all-cause mortality and the indirect effects of UTI (acute rejection, graft loss, worsening of graft function).
We searched the Cochrane Kidney and Transplant Register of Studies up to 1 September 2017 through contact with the Information Specialist using search terms relevant to this review. Studies in the Register are identified through searches of CENTRAL, MEDLINE, and EMBASE, conference proceedings, the International Clinical Trials Register (ICTRP) Search Portal, and ClinicalTrials.gov.
All randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs in any language assessing treatment of asymptomatic bacteriuria in kidney transplant recipients at any time-point after transplantation.
Two authors independently determined study eligibility, assessed quality and extracted data. Primary outcomes were incidence of symptomatic UTI and incidence of antimicrobial resistance. Other outcomes included incidences of all-cause mortality, graft loss, graft rejection, graft function, hospitalisation for UTI, adverse reactions to antimicrobial agents and relapse or persistence of asymptomatic bacteriuria. We expressed dichotomous outcomes as absolute risk difference (RD) or risk ratio (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) and continuous data as mean differences (MD) with 95% CI. Data were pooled using the random effects model.
We included two studies (212 participants) comparing antibiotics versus no treatment, and identified three on-going studies. Overall, incidence of symptomatic UTI varied between 19% and 31% in the groups not treated for asymptomatic bacteriuria. Antibiotic treatment had uncertain effects on preventing symptomatic UTI (2 studies, 200 participants: RR 0.86, 95% CI 0.51 to 1.45). Risk for selecting multidrug-resistant organisms was uncertain with antibiotic treatment (1 study, 112 participants: RR 1.21, 95% CI 0.60 to 2.41). Persistence of asymptomatic bacteriuria was high regardless of treatment. Antibiotics also have uncertain effects on other important patient and graft outcomes, for instance on all-cause mortality (1 study, 112 participants: RR 2.23, 95% CI 0.21 to 23.86), graft loss (1 study, 112 participants: RR 1.11, 95% CI 0.07 to 17.36), acute rejection (1 study, 112 participants: RR 0.93, 95% CI 0.44 to 1.97), hospitalisation for UTI (1 study, 112 participants: RR 0.74, 95% CI 0.13 to 4.27), graft function (2 studies, 200 participants, MD in serum creatinine concentration -0.06 mg/dL, 95% CI -0.19 to 0.08) and adverse reactions (1 study, 112 participants: no severe adverse event attributable to the antibiotic treatment). Evidence quality was low for all outcomes.
Currently, there is insufficient evidence to support routinely treating kidney transplant recipients with antibiotics in case of asymptomatic bacteriuria after transplantation, but data are scarce. Further studies assessing routine antibiotic treatment would inform practice and we await the results of three ongoing randomised studies, which may help resolve existing uncertainties.