The concomitant use of vancomycin and piperacillin-tazobactam is associated with acute kidney injury (AKI) in extremely low birth weight infants (ELBW)

Abstract: BACKGROUND: Late-onset sepsis is common in extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants, and it leads to the use of antibiotics to cover resistant organisms, which can be nephrotoxic. Here we have investigated the role of vancomycin plus piperacillin-tazobactam on the rate of acute kidney injury (AKI). METHODS: In a retrospective case-control study, medical records of all ELBW infants who were admitted to our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with late onset sepsis who were prescribed vancomycin plus piperacillin-tazobactam were reviewed for demographics, clinical characteristics, use of potential nephrotoxic medications and outcomes. RESULTS: During the study period, 264 patients were admitted, of whom 28.4%(75/264) received vancomycin plus piperacillin-tazobactam and were matched with 64 controls. There were no differences in gestational age or birth weight between cases and controls [688±160 vs. 689±162 grams (p = 0.99), and 24.7±1.8 vs. 24.7±1.6 weeks (p = 0.99) respectively]. There was no difference in the rate of sepsis between cases and controls [76%(55/72) vs. 64%(41/64) respectively, p = 0.11]. Infants exposed to vancomycin plus piperacillin-tazobactam had a higher percentage of concomitant use of vasopressors and amphotericin. To adjust for confounders, a logistic regression analysis was conducted with AKI as the dependent variable. Use of vasopressors and vancomycin plus piperacillin-tazobactam were the only risk factors associated with AKI with an adjusted OR (95%CI) of 4.08 (1.90–8.74), p < 0.001; and 2.87 (1.26–6.53), p = 0.01 respectively. CONCLUSION: The use of vancomycin plus piperacillin-tazobactam in ELBW infants is associated with an increased risk for AKI.

*Corresponding Author: 

Prem Shekhawat, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, MetroHealth Medical Center, C.G. 75 2500 MetroHealth Drive, Cleveland OH 44109, USA. Tel.: +1 216 778 5937; E-mail: