Inhaled aminoglycosides in cancer patients with ventilator-associated Gram-negative bacterial pneumonia: safety and feasibility in the era of escalating drug resistance

  • D. E. Ghannam
  • G. H. Rodriguez
  • I. I. Raad
  • A. Safdar


We sought to evaluate the safety and feasibility of inhaled aminoglycosides or colistin in cancer patients with ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) due to Gram-negative bacteria (GNB). A retrospective case-matched study was obtained after obtaining IRB approval in patients at the intensive care unit at our NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center between 1999 and 2005. Sixteen patients with GNB-VAP who received inhaled aminoglycosides or colistin were compared with 16 patients who had received these antibiotics intravenously alone. Eligible patients were required to have received at least six doses of inhaled therapy, or 3 or more days of intravenous therapy. Clinical Pulmonary Infection Scores were used to assess pneumonia severity. Standard ATS criteria were used to define VAP. Patients treated with inhaled antibiotics were less likely to have received corticosteroids (13% vs 50%; P < 0.02) and had a higher median baseline creatinine level (0.85 vs 0.6 mg/dL; P < 0.02) than patients treated intravenously. Pseudomonas aeruginosa (69%) was the most common cause of VAP. There were no serious adverse events associated with inhaled antibiotics. Patients who received these antibiotics intravenously developed renal dysfunction (31%); none of the patients treated with inhaled antibiotics developed nephrotoxicity (P ≤ 0.04). Patients treated with inhaled antibiotics were more likely to have complete resolution of clinical (81% vs 31% in the intravenous antibiotic group; P < 0.01) and microbiologic infection (77% vs 8% in the intravenous antibiotic group: P < 0.0006). In a multivariate analysis adjusted for corticosteroid use, inhaled antibiotic therapy was predictive of complete clinical resolution (odds ratio [OR], 6.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1, 37.6; P < 0.04) and eradication of causative organisms (OR 36.7; 95% CI, 3.3, 412.2; P < 0.003). In critically ill cancer patients with Gram-negative VAP, inhaled aminoglycosides were tolerated without serious toxicity and may lead to improved outcome.


Cystic Fibrosis Aminoglycosides Tobramycin Colistin Critical Care Unit 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported in part by the Cancer Center Support Grant CA16672 from the National Institutes of Health.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. E. Ghannam
    • 1
  • G. H. Rodriguez
    • 1
  • I. I. Raad
    • 1
  • A. Safdar
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Infectious Diseases, Infection Control, and Employee Health, Unit 402The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA

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