Pediatric Drugs

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 229–234 | Cite as

Standard-Dose Versus High-Dose Acyclovir in Children Treated Empirically for Encephalitis: A Retrospective Cohort Study of Its Use and Safety

  • Jennifer G. KendrickEmail author
  • Mary H. H. Ensom
  • Andrew Steer
  • Colin T. White
  • Eddie Kwan
  • Roxane R. Carr
Original Research Article



Intravenous acyclovir is the treatment of choice for herpes simplex virus encephalitis. In 2006, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its dosing recommendations for children aged 3 months to 12 years to receive high-dose acyclovir (60 mg/kg/day). The association between acyclovir dose and toxicity is unclear.


The purpose of our study was to review our institution’s experience with standard- and high-dose acyclovir for the empiric treatment of encephalitis.

Study Design, Setting and Patients

This retrospective cohort study included patients aged 1 month to 18 years who received acyclovir as empiric treatment for encephalitis between 2005 and 2009 at a tertiary care children’s hospital. We excluded patients with baseline renal impairment and those without serum creatinine measurements prior to and during treatment.

Main Outcome Measure

The main outcome measure of this study was to compare the occurrence of renal injury or failure between children who received the standard- versus high-dose regimen.


Sixty-one patients were included (n = 32 standard-dose; n = 29 high-dose). There was no statistical difference in change in serum creatinine from baseline between children who received standard- versus high-dose acyclovir (0 vs. 5.1 %; p = 0.79). One child in the standard-dose group and three children in the high-dose group developed renal injury or failure during treatment (3.1 vs. 10.3 %; p = 0.34). Children with renal injury or failure were older, had a longer length of stay, and longer duration of therapy than children without.


The incidence of renal injury or failure was similar between children who received standard-dose and high-dose acyclovir.


Herpes Simplex Virus Encephalitis Acyclovir Renal Injury Herpes Simplex Virus Encephalitis 
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Conflict of interest

The authors declare no relevant conflicts of interest. No sources of funding were used for the preparation of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer G. Kendrick
    • 7
    Email author
  • Mary H. H. Ensom
    • 1
    • 2
  • Andrew Steer
    • 3
    • 4
  • Colin T. White
    • 5
    • 6
  • Eddie Kwan
    • 1
  • Roxane R. Carr
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Pharmacy DepartmentChildren’s and Women’s Health Centre of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Pharmaceutical SciencesUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Royal Children’s HospitalMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.Division of Nephrology, Department of PediatricsBC Children’s HospitalVancouverCanada
  6. 6.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  7. 7.Pharmacy DepartmentChildren’s and Women’s Health Centre of BCVancouverCanada

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