In several case reports, the occurrence of Achilles tendon rupture has been attributed to the use of quinolones, but the epidemiologic evidence for this association is scanty.
We conducted a population-based case-control study in the General Practice Research Database in the United Kingdom during the period 1988 through 1998. Cases were defined as all persons who had a first-time recording of an Achilles tendon rupture, and who had at least 18 months of valid history before the index date. As a control group, we randomly sampled 50 000 patients with at least 18 months of valid history who were assigned a random date as index date.
We identified 1367 cases that met the inclusion criteria. The adjusted odds ratio (OR) for Achilles tendon rupture was 4.3 (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.4-7.8) for current exposure to quinolones, 2.4 (95% CI, 1.5-3.7) for recent exposure, and 1.4 (95% CI, 0.9-2.1) for past exposure. The OR of Achilles tendon rupture was 6.4 (95% CI, 3.0-13.7) in patients aged 60 to 79 years and 20.4 (95% CI, 4.6-90.1) in patients aged 80 years or older. In persons aged 60 years and older, the OR was 28.4 (95% CI, 7.0-115.3) for current exposure to ofloxacin, while the ORs were 3.6 (95% CI, 1.4-9.1) and 14.2 (95% CI, 1.6-128.6) for ciprofloxacin and norfloxacin, respectively. Approximately 2% to 6% of all Achilles tendon ruptures in people older than 60 years can be attributed to quinolones.
Current exposure to quinolones increased the risk of Achilles tendon rupture. The risk is highest among elderly patients who were concomitantly treated with corticosteroids.