The efficacy of carbapenems versus cefotaxime (8g/day)+metronidazole (1.5-2g/day) [combined standard chemotherapy (CSC)] for the treatment of brain abscess was compared. Fifty-nine adult patients with brain abscesses received either imipenem or meropenem (3-4g/day) or CSC for a mean of 5 weeks, in addition to neurosurgery in most cases. Cure was obtained in 84.7% of cases; 42/47 (89.4%) on carbapenems [18/22 (81.8%) on imipenem versus 24/25 (96.0%) on meropenem] and 8/12 (66.7%) on CSC (P=0.06). Seven patients with multiple abscesses were treated with imipenem (1 died; cure rate 85.7%), five with meropenem (all survived; cure rate 100%) and five with CSC (2 died; cure rate 60%) (P<0.4). Neurosurgery was performed in 43/59 cases (72.9%); 17 (77.3%) in the imipenem group, 21 (84.0%) in the meropenem group and 5 (41.7%) in the CSC group (P=0.02). There was no significant difference in the rate of relapse requiring re-intervention. Treatment with meropenem was associated with a lower mortality than CSC (P=0.026). Seizures were observed only with carbapenems [8/22 (36.4%) for imipenem versus 2/25 (8.0%) for meropenem; P=0.03]. Carbapenems were more effective than CSC for treatment of brain abscesses. Because meropenem induced significantly fewer seizures than imipenem with at least the same clinical efficacy, the former appears to be a better choice to treat this infection.
Copyright 2009 Elsevier B.V. and the International Society of Chemotherapy. All rights reserved.