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The implementation of European Association of Urology guidelines in the management of acute epididymo-orchitis.

INTRODUCTION: Acute epididymo-orchitis is a common and increasing problem. This retrospective study reviewed whether the European Association of Urology guidelines for the management of acute epididymo-orchitis, which form the basis of this Trust's present inter-departmental guidelines, are being effectively implemented.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Case notes of 53 patients attending the emergency department with acute epididymo-orchitis over a 6-month period were reviewed retrospectively. The hospital results' database was used to confirm the diagnostic tests requested on patients at the time of their initial presentation.

RESULTS: Of the study cohort, 26 patients were aged </= 35 years and 27 patients were aged > 35 years. The results demonstrated that a sexual history was documented in only 43.4% of cases. A mid-stream urine sample was sent for routine culture in 54.7% of cases whilst urine for the Chlamydia polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test was obtained in 17% and a urethral swab performed in 5.6%. Antibiotics were prescribed in 81% of cases. Of these patients, 46.5% received ciprofloxacin alone (mean age, 52 years; range, 18-87 years), 25.5% received doxycycline alone (mean age, 30 years; range, 18-45 years) and 21% received both ciprofloxacin and doxycycline (mean age, 33 years; range 18-49 years). In 26.4% of cases, verbal advice to attend a genito-urinary medicine clinic was given, whilst a formal telephone referral was made in only one case. Formal urological follow-up was arranged for only three out of 11 patients aged > 50 years.

CONCLUSIONS: Although a joint emergency department/urology clinical protocol for the investigation and treatment of acute epididymo-orchitis already exists within the Trust, our current management conforms to this in only a minority of cases. Many different strategies can be employed in the implementation of clinical practice guidelines and all are associated with variable degrees of success. The regular movement of junior staff through each department necessitates that the distribution of management protocols and guidelines occurs at frequent intervals throughout the year and that their implementation is continuously monitored so that, if necessary, further implementation strategies can be employed.

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