A roadmap for fever of unknown origin in children

Donato Rigante, Susan Esposito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)


Fever of unknown origin (FUO) in adults is conventionally defined by the occurrence of body temperatures above 38.3 degrees C (101 degrees F) for a period of 3 weeks without any identified etiology after a period of 1-week hospitalization. The issue of FUO in pediatrics is rather hazy and still represents a challenging diagnostic dilemma. Most of the available data are limited to nationwide cohorts of patients of any age. The major difficulty in establishing a diagnosis is that the characteristic features rendering specific disorders clinically recognizable are absent or subtle, hence only a painstaking questioning on family background may elicit the correct investigative path. No diagnostic algorithms are actually available and clinicians must rely on a very careful step-by-step evaluation of the single patient. The need for invasive diagnostic techniques should be closely taken into consideration when laboratory tests or simple imaging procedures fail to discern the origin of FUO. Fevers with no reasonable explanation and no localizing signs often conceal different common diseases in children, which tend to display an unusual or atypical pattern. The principal causes behind FUO in pediatric age remain infections, followed by collagen vascular diseases and neoplastic disorders, although most children with malignancies present other systemic signs or suggestive laboratory abnormalities. The possibility of autoinflammatory syndromes, drug fever, and factitious fever should also be taken into account.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-326
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Child
  • Fever of undetermined origin


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