Fever of unknown origin in the elderly


 Sari Tal MD, Subacute Department, Harzfeld Geriatric Hospital, Kaplan Medical Center, Gedera 70750, Israel (fax: 972 8859 4227; e-mail: ysmg_tal@netvision.net.il).


Fever of unknown origin (FUO) means fever that does not resolve itself in the period expected for self-limited infection and whose cause cannot be ascertained despite considerable diagnostic efforts. The differential diagnosis is often different in older patients, and presentation of disease is frequently nonspecific and symptoms are difficult to interpret. Multisystem disease has emerged as the most frequent cause of FUO in the elderly, and temporal arteritis is the most frequent specific diagnosis. Infections, particular tuberculosis, remain an important group. FUO is often associated with treatable conditions in this age group. Early recognition and prompt initiation of appropriate empirical therapy are cornerstones of the strategy.