Fever of Unknown Origin: A Clinical Approach

Fergus To


Fever of unknown origin (FUO) in the adult population remains a common challenge in clinical practice. Currently, a systematic approach to working up an admitted patient includes a thorough history and physical exam. The most likely cause can then be assigned to one of four broad categories: infection, inflammation, malignancy, or miscellaneous. These broader classes help guide initial diagnostic tests and avoid unnecessary, more invasive procedures. Nevertheless, despite a thorough workup, as many as 30% of all FUO cases are never solved. The current evidence points to a favourable prognosis for these cases and, thus, empiric treatment is generally not recommended. This review aims to help clinicians understand the broad differential diagnosis of FUO, and provides a summary of the current literature and evidence–based recommendations for working up FUO.

KEYWORDS: fever; unknown origin; infection; diagnosis

Full text (PDF, 529kb)

To F. Fever of Unknown Origin: A Clinical Approach. UBCMJ. 2013 4(2):14-16.