What are the treatment options for fever of unknown origin (FUO)?

Updated: May 17, 2021
  • Author: Sandra G Gompf, MD, FACP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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In general, empiric therapy has little or no role in cases of classic fever of unknown origin (FUO).

Treatment should be directed toward the underlying cause, as needed, once a diagnosis is made.

Some studies suggest a few exceptions to this general approach, including the following:

  • Cases that meet criteria for culture-negative endocarditis
  • Cases in which findings or the clinical setting suggests cryptic disseminated TB (or, occasionally, other granulomatous infections)
  • Cases in which temporal arteritis with vision loss is suspected

Several studies have found that prolonged undiagnosed FUO generally carries a favorable prognosis.

Because of a better understanding of the etiologies and careful diagnostic approaches, patients with FUO rarely need surgical treatment.

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