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Current Practices of Intraventricular Antibiotic Therapy in the Treatment of Meningitis and Ventriculitis: Results from a Multicenter Retrospective Cohort Study



Central nervous system (CNS) infections are particularly prevalent in the adult neurocritical care patient population and are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Factors relevant to the nature of CNS infections pose significant challenges to clinicians treating afflicted patients. Intraventricular (IVT) administration of antibiotics may offer several benefits over systemic therapy; however, the outcomes and current practices of such treatments are poorly described in the literature.


To describe current practices and outcomes of patients receiving intraventricular antibiotic treatment for CNS infections in neurological intensive care units of academic medical centers nationwide.


A retrospective cohort study was conducted on patients admitted to intensive care units who received IVT antibiotic treatment at participating centers in the USA between January 01, 2003, and December 31, 2013. Clinical and laboratory parameters, microbiology, surgical and antimicrobial management, and treatment outcomes were collected and described.


Of the 105 patients included, all received systemic antimicrobial therapy along with at least one dose of IVT antimicrobial agents. Intraventricular vancomycin was used in 52.4% of patients. The average dose was 12.2 mg/day for a median duration of 5 days. Intraventricular aminoglycosides were used in 47.5% of the patients, either alone or in combination with IVT vancomycin. The average dose of gentamicin/tobramycin was 6.7 mg/day with a median duration of 6 days. Overall mortality was 18.1%. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) culture sterilization occurred in 88.4% of the patients with a rate of recurrence or persistence of positive cultures of 9.5%.


Intraventricular antimicrobial agents resulted in a high CSF sterilization rate. Contemporary use of this route typically results in a treatment duration of less than a week. Prospective studies are needed to establish the optimal patient population, as well as the efficacy and safety of this route of administration.

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This work was conducted through the Neurocritical Care Society Pharmacy Research Committee.


This publication was made possible by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) which is funded in part by Grant Number UL1 TR001079 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of the Johns Hopkins ICTR, NCATS or NIH.

Author information

JL, CG, WZ conceived of and planned the study. CG, JL developed the data collection tool with input from all authors. All listed authors participated in data collection for their respective centers. Statistical analyses were conducted by AC, DM, WZ, and JL. JL and AC took the lead in writing the manuscript, with assistance from DM. All authors reviewed the manuscript and provided substantive input and edits. All authors provided critical feedback and helped shape the research, analysis and manuscript.

Correspondence to John J. Lewin III.

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Conflicts of interest

Drs. Lewin, Rowe, Cook, Zaniewski, Clark, Merola, Makii, Kurczewski, Peppard, Giarratano, Gonzales, Neyens, and Brophy have nothing to disclose. Dr. Tesoro reports personal fees from Arbor Pharmaceuticals, outside the submitted work. Dr. Ziai reports personal fees from Headsense, Inc., outside the submitted work.

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Lewin, J.J., Cook, A.M., Gonzales, C. et al. Current Practices of Intraventricular Antibiotic Therapy in the Treatment of Meningitis and Ventriculitis: Results from a Multicenter Retrospective Cohort Study. Neurocrit Care 30, 609–616 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12028-018-0647-0

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  • Meningitis
  • Injections, intraventricular
  • Cerebral ventriculitis
  • Brain abscess
  • Central nervous system infections
  • Drug resistance, microbial