The Dose-Dependent Efficacy of Cefepime in the Empiric Management of Febrile Neutropenia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Nikolaos Andreatos, Myrto Eleni Flokas, Anna Apostolopoulou, Michail Alevizakos, Eleftherios Mylonakis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background. Despite reports questioning its efficacy, cefepime remains a first-line option in febrile neutropenia. We aimed to re-evaluate the role of cefepime in this setting. Methods. We searched the PubMed and EMBASE databases to identify randomized comparisons of (1) cefepime vs alternative monotherapy or (2) cefepime plus aminoglycoside vs alternative monotherapy plus aminoglycoside, published until November 28, 2016. Results. Thirty-two trials, reporting on 5724 patients, were included. Clinical efficacy was similar between study arms (P = .698), but overall mortality was greater among cefepime-treated patients (risk ratio [RR] = 1.321; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.035-1.686; P = .025). Also of note, this effect seemed to stem from trials using low-dose (2 grams/12 hours, 100 mg/kg per day) cefepime monotherapy (RR = 1.682; 95% CI, 1.038-2.727; P = .035). Cefepime was also associated with increased mortality compared with carbapenems (RR = 1.668; 95% CI, 1.089-2.555; P = .019), a finding possibly influenced by cefepime dose, because carbapenems were compared with low-dose cefepime monotherapy in 5 of 9 trials. Treatment failure in clinically documented infections was also more frequent with cefepime (RR = 1.143; 95% CI, 1.004-1.300; P = .043). Toxicity-related treatment discontinuation was more common among patients that received high-dose cefepime (P = .026), whereas low-dose cefepime monotherapy resulted in fewer adverse events, compared with alternative monotherapy (P = .009). Conclusions. Cefepime demonstrated increased mortality compared with carbapenems, reduced efficacy in clinically documented infections, and higher rates of toxicity-related treatment discontinuation. The impact of cefepime dosing on these outcomes is important, because low-dose regimens were associated with lower toxicity at the expense of higher mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberOFX113
JournalOpen Forum Infectious Diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • cancer
  • cefepime
  • dose
  • febrile
  • neutropenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Clinical Neurology


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