Sulbactam/ampicillin in the treatment of acute epiglottitis in children

Rev Infect Dis. Nov-Dec 1986;8 Suppl 5:S617-9. doi: 10.1093/clinids/8.supplement_5.s617.


Acute epiglottitis, a life-threatening illness, is characterized by the sudden onset and rapid progression of respiratory obstruction. The etiologic agent is almost exclusively Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). During the past decade as many as 25% of strains of Hib have been shown to produce beta-lactamase and be resistant to ampicillin. Recommendations for treatment, in addition to the immediate intubation of the airway, include the administration of chloramphenicol in combination with ampicillin. The combination of sulbactam and ampicillin was evaluated in an effort to develop a safer, but equally effective, regimen. Thirty-one infants and children (mean age, three years six months) with documented acute epiglottitis received parenteral sulbactam sodium (30 mg/kg per day) in combination with ampicillin (200 mg/kg per day). Of the 31 subjects, 26 (84%) had Hib isolated from the blood; seven (27%) of the 26 strains of Hib isolated were beta-lactamase-positive. Twenty-five cases (96%) of Hib epiglottitis responded rapidly to treatment. The combination of sulbactam and ampicillin appeared to be an effective and safe alternative to chloramphenicol/ampicillin therapy for acute epiglottitis in infants and children.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Ampicillin / pharmacology
  • Ampicillin / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Combinations / pharmacology
  • Drug Combinations / therapeutic use
  • Epiglottitis / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Haemophilus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Haemophilus influenzae / drug effects
  • Haemophilus influenzae / enzymology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Laryngitis / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Penicillanic Acid / pharmacology
  • Penicillanic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Penicillin Resistance
  • Sulbactam
  • beta-Lactamase Inhibitors
  • beta-Lactamases / biosynthesis


  • Drug Combinations
  • beta-Lactamase Inhibitors
  • sultamicillin
  • Ampicillin
  • Penicillanic Acid
  • beta-Lactamases
  • Sulbactam