How common is the etiology of fever of unknown origin (FUO) identified as a noninfectious inflammatory disease?

Updated: May 17, 2021
  • Author: Sandra G Gompf, MD, FACP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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A prospective review of FUO in 290 subjects between 1990 and 1999 found noninfectious inflammatory diseases in 35.2% of cases, infections in 29.7%, miscellaneous causes in 19.8%, and malignancies in 15.1%. Most were diagnosed within 3 visits or 3 hospital days. This differs from prior estimates, in which infections dominated, followed by malignancies, collagen vascular diseases, and numerous miscellaneous conditions. With the increasing use of immunomodulators used to treat an expanding range of conditions, infections may yet regain their lead as the cause of FUO. Interestingly, the rate of unknown causes is higher in this report than in prior estimates, with 33.8% remaining undiagnosed beyond 7 days. The short time frame may overestimate the number of undiagnosed cases. Evaluations in the past may not have proceeded as quickly, and, even now, newer tests may require transport to specialty laboratories, and diagnosis may still take longer than 7 days. [15]

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