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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e54190. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054190. Epub 2013 Jan 23.

Antibiotic rotation for febrile neutropenic patients with hematological malignancies: clinical significance of antibiotic heterogeneity.

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  • 1Department of Medicine and Biosystemic Sciences, Kyushu University Graduate School of Medicine, Fukuoka, Japan.



Our unit adopted the single administration of cefepime as the initial treatment for febrile episodes in neutropenic patients with hematological malignancies. However, recently, cefepime-resistant gram-negative bacteremia, including those with extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producers, was frequently observed in these patients. Therefore, we instituted a rotation of primary antibiotics for febrile neutropenic patients in an attempt to control antibiotic resistance.


This prospective trial was performed from August 2008 through March 2011 at our unit. After a pre-intervention period, in which cefepime was used as the initial agent for febrile neutropenia, 4 primary antibiotics, namely, piperacillin-tazobactam, ciprofloxacin, meropenem, and cefepime, were rotated at 1-month intervals over 20 months. Blood and surveillance cultures were conducted for febrile episodes, in order to assess the etiology, the resistance pattern (particularly to cefepime), and the prognosis.


In this trial, 219 patients were registered. A 65.9% reduction in the use of cefepime occurred after the antibiotic rotation. In the surveillance stool cultures, the detection rate of cefepime-resistant gram-negative isolates, of which ESBL-producers were predominant, declined significantly after the intervention (8.5 vs 0.9 episodes per 1000 patient days before and after intervention respectively, P<0.01). Interestingly, ESBL-related bacteremia was not detected after the initiation of the trial (1.7 vs 0.0 episodes per 1000 patient days before and after intervention respectively, P<0.01). Infection-related mortality was comparable between the 2 periods.


We implemented a monthly rotation of primary antibiotics for febrile neutropenic patients. An antibiotic heterogeneity strategy, mainly performed as a cycling regimen, would be useful for controlling antimicrobial resistance among patients treated for febrile neutropenia.

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