INTRODUCTION: Children with bone and joint infections are traditionally treated with intravenous antibiotics for 3-10 days, followed by oral antibiotics. Oral-only treatment has not been tested in randomised trials. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: Children (3 months to 18 years) will be randomised 1:1 with the experimental group receiving high-dose oral antibiotics and the control group receiving intravenous antibiotics with a shift in both groups to standard oral antibiotics after clinical and paraclinical improvement. Children in need of acute surgery or systemic features requiring intravenous therapy, including septic shock, are excluded. The primary outcome is defined as a normal blinded standardised clinical assessment 6 months after end of treatment. Secondary outcomes are non-acute treatment failure and recurrent infection. Outcomes will be compared by a non-inferiority assumption with an inferiority margin of 5%. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The trial has the potential to reduce unnecessary hospitalisation and use of intravenous antibiotics in children with bone or joint infections. Due to the close follow-up, exclusion of severely ill children and predefined criteria for discontinuation of the allocated therapy, we expect the risk of treatment failure to be minimal. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT04563325.
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