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Ann Intern Med. 2002 Jul 16;137(2):77-87.

Ciprofloxacin plus piperacillin compared with tobramycin plus piperacillin as empirical therapy in febrile neutropenic patients. A randomized, double-blind trial.

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  • 1Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1042, USA.



Therapy with an aminoglycoside and a beta-lactam remains common empirical therapy for febrile neutropenic patients. Concerns of aminoglycoside-induced ototoxicity and nephrotoxicity have led to studies of alternate regimens.


To determine whether ciprofloxacin-piperacillin is equivalent to tobramycin-piperacillin as empirical therapy for neutropenic fever.


Randomized, double-blind multicenter trial.


Seven U.S. university-affiliated hospitals and one private research center.


Febrile (temperature >/= 38 degrees C), neutropenic (neutrophil level < 1 x 10(9) cells/L) hospitalized patients who had leukemia, lymphoma, or solid tumors, or were undergoing bone marrow transplantation.


Patients received piperacillin, 50 mg/kg of body weight intravenously every 4 hours, and ciprofloxacin, 400 mg intravenously every 8 hours, or tobramycin, 2 mg/kg intravenously every 8 hours.


Success was defined as resolution of infection and previously positive cultures without the need to give additional antimicrobial agents.


543 febrile episodes were evaluated, of which 471 were clinically evaluable (234 in the ciprofloxacin-piperacillin group and 237 in the tobramycin-piperacillin group). Success rates in the ciprofloxacin-piperacillin group (63 of 234 febrile episodes) and tobramycin-piperacillin group (52 of 237 episodes) were similar (27% vs. 22%, respectively; difference, 5.0 percentage points [95% CI, -2.3 to 12.8 percentage points]), as was survival (96.2% of patients receiving ciprofloxacin-piperacillin versus 94.1% of patients receiving tobramycin-piperacillin; difference, 2.1 percentage points [CI, -2.2 to 6.4 percentage points]). Additions to the initial antimicrobial regimen were the most common reason for treatment failure in both groups (accounting for 67% of failures in the ciprofloxacin-piperacillin group and 72% in the tobramycin-piperacillin group; difference, 5.0 percentage points [CI, -13.8 to 3.7 percentage points]). Fevers resolved faster in patients receiving ciprofloxacin-piperacillin than in patients receiving tobramycin-piperacillin (mean, 5 vs. 6 days) (P = 0.005). No significant differences in adverse events or toxicity were noted (P = 0.083).


Ciprofloxacin-piperacillin is as safe and effective as tobramycin-piperacillin for empirical therapy of neutropenic fever.

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