Cefepime in the empiric treatment of meningitis in children

Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2001 Mar;20(3):356-61. doi: 10.1097/00006454-200103000-00035.


Background: Because the introduction of extended spectrum cephalosporins into pediatric practice offers a number of choices for treatment, we review efficacy studies of cefepime monotherapy in the treatment of bacterial meningitis in children.

Methods: Two open, randomized, comparative studies assessed the efficacy of cefepime empiric monotherapy in the treatment of bacterial meningitis in 345 pediatric patients. These studies were conducted in Latin America and compared cefepime (50 mg/kg/dose every 8 h) with either cefotaxime (50 mg/kg/dose every 6 h) or ceftriaxone (50 mg/kg/dose every 12 h). Patients 2 months to 14 years old who had clinical signs and symptoms consistent with a central nervous system infection were enrolled. Efficacy was based on clinical and bacteriologic response.

Results: Integrated results from the Latin American studies indicated a 75% cure rate with cefepime vs. a 78% cure rate with comparator, among evaluable patients. Overall the rate of treatment failure was 12%. Haemophilus influenzae had the highest bacterial eradication rate (97% overall), and rates were comparable in cefepime and comparator arms. Eradication rates for Neisseria meningitidis were equally high in both treatment arms (95% overall), and the eradication rate for Streptococcus pneumoniae was 92% overall. Of the patients with S. pneumoniae isolated during pretreatment (from either cerebrospinal fluid or blood), 11 (16 isolates in total) had their isolates tested against penicillin and all were susceptible. Presence or absence of seizures, level of consciousness, Glasgow Coma Score and duration of signs and symptoms were strong predictors of outcome. Collectively no specific safety concerns were identified.

Conclusion: Cefepime represents an important therapeutic option for the empiric treatment of bacterial meningitis in children, based on the good clinical response and bacteriologic eradication rates observed in this review.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cefepime
  • Cefotaxime / adverse effects
  • Cefotaxime / therapeutic use
  • Ceftriaxone / adverse effects
  • Ceftriaxone / therapeutic use
  • Cephalosporins / adverse effects
  • Cephalosporins / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Latin America
  • Meningitis, Bacterial / drug therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Safety
  • Treatment Failure
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cephalosporins
  • Ceftriaxone
  • Cefepime
  • Cefotaxime