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Meropenem versus cefotaxime and ampicillin as empirical antibiotic treatment in adult bacterial meningitis: A quality registry study, 2008 to 2016

Journal article
Authors Magnus Brink
Martin Glimåker
Jan Sjölin
Pontus Naucler
Published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Volume 63
Issue 11
ISSN 00664804
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Infectious Medicine
Language en
Keywords Ampicillin, Bacterial meningitis, Cefotaxime, Meropenem, Treatment
Subject categories Infectious Medicine


© 2019 American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved. Cefotaxime, alone or with ampicillin, is frequently used in empirical treatment of acute bacterial meningitis (ABM). Meropenem is a less extensively investigated alternative. The aim of the study was to investigate the effects of empirical treatment with meropenem compared to cefotaxime plus ampicillin on outcome in ABM. The study was based on data from the Swedish quality register for ABM collected between January 2008 and December 2016. Propensity score matching was performed to adjust for baseline differences between the groups. Mortality within 30 days was the primary outcome. The treatment regimens of interest were administered to 623 patients; 328 were given cefotaxime plus ampicillin whereas 295 received meropenem. Using propensity score matching, the 30-day mortality rates were 3.2% in the cefotaxime plus ampicillin group and 3.6% in the meropenem group. For matched cases, the odds ratio (OR) for 30-day mortality for meropenem versus cefotaxime plus ampicillin was 1.15 (confidence interval [CI], 0.41 to 3.22; P = 0.79). The OR for 90-day mortality was 1.47 (CI, 0.62 to 3.52; P = 0.38) and for unfavorable outcome was 1.10 (CI, 0.75 to 1.63; P = 0.62). The findings of our study indicate that meropenem is an effective empirical treatment option for adults with community-acquired ABM. However, to spare carbapenems, guidelines should continue to recommend third-generation cephalosporins as an empirical treatment for the majority of patients with ABM.

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