UMEM Educational Pearls

A recent retrospective observational study looked at the association of oral antibiotics (primarily fluroquinolones) and tendon rupture.

Outcome data is very interesting for our practice, deviates from traditional teaching.

Population:  1 million Medicare fee for service beneficiaries from 2007-2016 (>65 years old)

Antibiotics queried:  Seven total oral antibiotics of mixed class:

  1. Fluoroquinolones (ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin)
  2. Other:  Amoxicillin, amoxicillin-clavulanate, azithromycin and cephalexin.


Outcome measures:  all combined tendon ruptures and 3 by anatomic site (Achilles, rotator cuff {RC} and other)

Results:  Of the 3 quinolones, only LEVOfloxacin showed a significant increase in risk of tendon rupture (16% for RC) and (120% for Achilles) in a 1 month window. The others did not show an increased risk

Among the other antibiotics, cephalexin showed an increase risk across all anatomic sites.

The authors note that the risk with levofloxacin never exceeded the risk of cephalexin in any comparison!





Baik S, Lau J, Huser V, McDonald CJ. Association between tendon ruptures and use of fluoroquinolone, and other oral antibiotics: a 10-year retrospective study of 1 million US senior Medicare beneficiaries.

BMJ Open. 2020;10(12):e034844. Published 2020 Dec 21.