Cefepime-induced Neurotoxicity: A Retrospective Cohort Study in a South-Indian Tertiary Healthcare Facility

Erfan Alijani, Sonal Sekhar Miraj, Shilia Jacob Kurian, Mahadev Rao, Kavitha Saravu

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Background: Cefepime is a fourth-generation cephalosporin with a broad spectrum coverage and anti-pseudomonal activity. The safety profile of cefepime was relatively favourable until neurotoxicity was first reported in 1999. Despite cefepime-induced neurotoxicity (CIN), it continues to be a principal part of parenteral treatment for various infections. Objective: The study aimed to determine the incidence and risk factors for CIN compared to other antibiotics. Methods: A retrospective cohort study was conducted involving 738 patients over eight months in Kasturba Medical College and Hospital, Manipal, India. Patients with cefepime were selected as study cohort (SC; n= 496), and other antibiotics were included in the reference cohort (RC; n=242). Results: The results showed that 53 (10.7%) patients developed neurotoxicity in the SC, whereas 12 (5%) patients in the RC. A significant association was found between neurotoxicity and cefepime use (X2 =6.641; p=0.01). SC has a 2.29 times increased risk of neurotoxicity than RC (OR: 2.29; 95% CI: 1.2-4.38). Risk estimation showed that renal failure patients had a 5.5 times higher risk for CIN than non-renal failure patients (OR: 5.5; 95% CI: 2.98-10.17). CIN symptoms were disorientation (38.5%), loss of consciousness (23.1%), drowsiness (18.5%), etc. The calculated number needed to harm (NNH) for cefepime was 17.2. Conclusion: The study found a higher incidence of CIN compared to other antibiotics-induced neurotoxicity and a harmful association between cefepime use and CIN development. Besides, renal failure is a risk factor for CIN. Therefore, the study warrants the use of cefepime, where no other alternatives are available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-78
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Drug Safety
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01-02-2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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