Merck Manual

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Postpartum Pyelonephritis


Julie S. Moldenhauer

, MD, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Reviewed/Revised Jan 2022 | Modified Sep 2022

Pyelonephritis is bacterial infection of the renal parenchyma.

Pyelonephritis Bacterial Urinary Tract Infections Bacterial urinary tract infections (UTIs) can involve the urethra, prostate, bladder, or kidneys. Symptoms may be absent or include urinary frequency, urgency, dysuria, lower abdominal pain... read more may occur postpartum if bacteria ascend from the bladder. The infection may begin as asymptomatic bacteriuria during pregnancy and is sometimes associated with bladder catheterization to relieve urinary distention during or after labor. The causative organism is usually a type of coliform bacteria (eg, Escherichia coli).

Symptoms of pyelonephritis include fever, flank pain, general malaise, and, occasionally, painful urination.

Diagnosis of Postpartum Pyelonephritis

Treatment of Postpartum Pyelonephritis

  • Ceftriaxone alone or ampicillin plus gentamicin

Initial treatment of pyelonephritis is ceftriaxone 1 to 2 g IV every 12 to 24 hours alone or ampicillin 1 g IV every 6 hours plus gentamicin 1.5 mg/kg IV every 8 hours until women are afebrile for 48 hours.

Sensitivities with culture should be checked. Treatment is adjusted accordingly and continued for a total of 7 to 14 days; oral antibiotics are used after the initial IV antibiotics.

Women should be encouraged to consume large amounts of liquids.

A urine culture should be repeated 6 to 8 weeks after delivery to verify cure. If episodes of pyelonephritis recur, imaging should be considered to look for calculi or congenital malformations. Imaging during pregnancy is usually with ultrasonography; imaging after pregnancy is usually with contrast CT.

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Drug Name Select Trade
Ceftrisol Plus, Rocephin
Garamycin, Genoptic, Genoptic SOP, Gentacidin, Gentafair, Gentak , Gentasol, Ocu-Mycin
NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: View Consumer Version
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