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Key Clinical Updates in Dysuria

Delayed antibiotic therapy in elderly patients with urinary tract infection leads to a substantially higher rate of bloodstream infections and all-cause mortality.

Among premenopausal women with recurrent urinary tract infections, increased daily water consumption decreased the mean number of cystitis episodes over a 12-month period and the number of antibiotic prescriptions.

The USPSTF recommends screening pregnant women (but nonpregnant adults) for asymptomatic bacteriuria with a urine culture.


  • Fever; new back or flank pain; nausea or vomiting.

  • Vaginal discharge.

  • Pregnancy risk.

  • Structural abnormalities.

  • Instrumentation of urethra or bladder.


Dysuria (painful urination) is a common reason for adults and adolescents to seek urgent medical attention. An inflammatory process (eg, urinary tract infection [UTI], autoimmune disorder) underlies most causes of dysuria. In women, cystitis will be diagnosed in up to 50–60% of cases. Cystitis has an incidence of 0.5–0.7% per year in sexually active young women. The key objective in evaluating women with dysuria is to exclude serious upper urinary tract disease, such as acute pyelonephritis, and sexually transmitted diseases. In elderly men, dysuria may be a symptom of prostatitis. In contrast, in younger men, urethritis accounts for the vast majority of cases of dysuria. A study found a high rate of UTI in surgery patients admitted after trauma (11%). Male cyclists had no worse sexual or urinary functions than swimmers or runners, but cyclists were more prone to urethral stricture.


A. Symptoms

Well-designed cohort studies have shown that some women can be reliably diagnosed with uncomplicated cystitis without a physical examination or urinalysis, and randomized controlled trials show that telephone management of uncomplicated cystitis is safe and effective. An increased likelihood of cystitis is present when women report multiple irritative voiding symptoms (dysuria, urgency, frequency), fever, or back pain (LRs = 1.6–2.0). A cohort study found that the symptom of dysuria most reliably predicted a culture-positive UTI. Inquiring about symptoms of vulvovaginitis is imperative. When women report dysuria and urinary frequency, and deny vaginal discharge and irritation, the LR for culture-confirmed cystitis is 24.5. In contrast, when vaginal discharge or irritation is present, as well as dysuria or urinary frequency, the LR is 0.7. Gross hematuria in women with voiding symptoms usually represents hemorrhagic cystitis but can also be a sign of bladder cancer (particularly in older patients) or upper tract disease. Failure of hematuria to resolve with antibiotic treatment should prompt further evaluation of the bladder and kidneys. Chlamydial infection should be strongly considered among women aged 25 years or younger who are sexually active and seeking medical attention for a suspected UTI for the first time or who have a new partner.

Because fever and back pain, as well as nausea and vomiting, are considered harbingers of (or clinical criteria for) acute pyelonephritis, women with these symptoms should usually ...

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