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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 9, Issue 1, Pages 22-28
Original Article

Current Indications for the Use of Clindamycin: A Critical Review

Marek Smieja

Departments of Medicine and Pathology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Copyright © 1998 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVES: To review the literature and develop evidence-based guidelines for the use of the antibiotic clindamycin.

DATA SOURCES: A search of the MEDLINE database for randomized clinical trials, cohort studies and review articles that examine the therapeutic use or potential adverse effects of clindamycin was undertaken for the years 1966 to 1996. In addition, relevant citations obtained from the references cited in the identified reviews, book chapters and antibiotic guidelines were included.

DATA EXTRACTION: Selected articles examining the indications for or adverse effects from the prophylactic or therapeutic use of clindamycin were selected. A level of evidence was assigned to the indication according to published criteria.

DATA SYNTHESIS AND CONCLUSIONS: Randomized clinical trials (level 1 evidence) support the use of clindamycin in a number of common conditions, including preoperative prophylaxis, intra-abdominal infections, recurrent group A streptococcal pharyngitis, Chlamydia trachomatis cervicitis and anaerobic lung infections. Cohort studies (level 2 evidence) support the use of clindamycin for bone and soft tissue infections. Expert opinion (level 3 evidence) supports the use of clindamycin for invasive group A streptococcal infection and the treatment of diabetic foot infections. Clindamycin’s disadvantages are its high cost, the common occurrence of rash and the predisposition of patients taking clindamycin to Clostridium difficile-associated colitis. Based on cohort studies, the risk of severe diarrhea in out-patients is as low as one per 1000, but the risk of in-patients acquiring C difficile colonization may be as high as 30%.