Management of Acute Pharyngitis in Children: Summary of the Italian National Institute of Health Guidelines

Elena Chiappini, Nicola Principi, Nicola Mansi, Agostino Serra, Salvatore De Masi, Angelo Camaioni, Susanna Esposito, Giovanni Felisati, Luisa Galli, Massimo Landi, Anna Maria Speciale, Francesca Bonsignori, Paola Marchisio, Maurizio de Martino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Discrepancies in the management of pharyngitis in children have been reported in Europe and the United States, and recommendations concerning the use of clinical scores, rapid antigen diagnostic tests (RADTs) or throat cultures, and the indications for antibiotic treatment largely differ. Objective: This article summarizes the Italian guidelines on the management of pharyngitis in children issued by the National Institute of Health. Methods: A multidisciplinary panel of experts (the Guidelines Development Group) developed and used a set of key questions to conduct a systematic review of the literature. Relevant publications in English were identified through a systematic review of MEDLINE and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews from their inception through April 30, 2011. Final recommendations were scaled according to the Italian National Guidelines Program grading. Results: Eighteen clinical questions were defined, and 44 recommendations were issued. None of the available scoring systems is sufficiently accurate to identify group A β-hemolytic streptococci (GABHS) pharyngitis in settings with low prevalence for rheumatic disease. RADT should be performed by trained personnel in every child with a history and signs/symptoms suggestive of GABHS pharyngitis. RADT is not recommended in children with a McIsaac score of 0 or 1 with ≥2 signs/symptoms suggestive of viral infection. Backup culture in children with negative RADT result is not recommended. Culture test with antibiotic susceptibility assay should be performed exclusively for epidemiologic purposes. Streptococcal antibody titers are of no value in diagnosing acute pharyngitis. Antibiotic therapy is recommended in microbiologically documented GABHS pharyngitis. Because penicillin V is not available in Italy, amoxicillin (50 mg/kg/d in 2-3 doses orally) for 10 days is the first choice of treatment. In noncompliant cases, benzathine penicillin may be administered. Although not routinely recommended due to the high cost and wide spectrum of activity, a 5-day course with a second-generation cephalosporin may be used in noncompliant cases. Macrolides should be limited to children with demonstrated type I hypersensitivity to penicillin. Ibuprofen or paracetamol is recommended for relief of pain or fever associated with discomfort. Because the carrier state is not associated with increased risk of suppurative complications and risk of GABHS transmission to contacts is minimal, the carrier state should never be investigated and treated. Recommendations for the management of suppurative complications are given. Conclusions: This guideline provides a comprehensive, evidence based, tool for the diagnosis and therapy of acute pharyngitis in children. (Clin Ther. 2012;34: 1442-1458)

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Therapeutics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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