Inhaled tobramycin for chronic infection with pseudomonas aeruginosa in non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Respir Med. 2021 Jan:176:106283. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2020.106283. Epub 2020 Dec 5.


Introduction: Non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis (NCFBE) is a chronic and progressive disease characterized by the permanent destruction of small and mid-sized airways. Many patients are chronically colonized by Pseudomona aueruginosa, for which oral antibiotics are given. Evidence to support the use of inhaled antibiotics is contradictory.

Objective: To describe the clinical effects of inhaled Tobramycin in P. aeruginosa density in sputum and eradication, lung function, bacterial resistance, and exacerbations requiring hospital admission, in the context of patients with NCFBE colonized by P. aeruginosa.

Methods: We included RCTs comparing inhaled tobramycin to other antibiotics and placebo in patients with NCFBE.

Main findings: 5 studies with 211 participants were included. 2 studies reported a significant but transitory decrease in P. aeruginosa density in sputum as compared to placebo. There was a small difference in the eradication of P. aeruginosa among groups, although with very wide confidence intervals. Tobramycin reduced the rate of hospital admissions but no frequency of exacerbations. There was no evidence of an increased rate of bacterial resistance but was associated to respiratory adverse effects.

Conclusions: Evidence is not robust enough to confirm a benefit of inhaled Tobramycin in reducing P. aeruginosa sputum density or eradication. There was a high attrition rate, in part due to respiratory adverse events after drug administration, which affects interpretation of the data and raises concerns about the tolerability of the drug. Further network meta-analysis should be done to compare the efficacy and safety of different inhaled antibiotics.

Keywords: Bronchiectasis; Eradication treatment; Inhaled antibiotics; Nebulized tobramycin; Non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis; Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Bronchiectasis / drug therapy*
  • Bronchiectasis / microbiology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pseudomonas Infections / drug therapy*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa*
  • Sputum / microbiology
  • Tobramycin / administration & dosage*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Tobramycin