Acute kidney injury and single-dose administration of aminoglycoside in the Emergency Department: a comparison through propensity score matching


Purpose: According to the Surviving Sepsis Campaign, aminoglycosides (AG) can be administered together with a β-lactam in patients with septic shock. Some authors propose administering a single dose of an AG combined with a β-lactam antibiotic in septic patients to extend the spectrum of antibiotic therapy. The aim of this study has been to investigate whether a single shot of AG when septic patients present at the Emergency Department (ED) is associated with acute kidney injury (AKI).

Methods: We retrospectively enrolled patients based on a 3-year internal registry of septic patients visited in the Emergency Department (ED) of Pordenone Hospital. We compared the patients treated with a single dose of gentamicin (in addition to the β-lactam) and those who had not been treated to verify AKI incidence.

Results: 355 patients were enrolled. The median age was 71 years (IQR 60-78). Less than 1% of the patients had a chronic renal disease. The most frequent infection source was the urinary tract (31%), followed by intra-abdominal and lower respiratory tract infections (15% for both). 131 patients received gentamicin. Unmatched data showed a significant difference between the two groups in AKI (79/131, 60.3% versus 102/224, 45.5%; p=0.010) and in infectious disease specialist’s consultation (77/131, 59% versus 93/224, 41.5%; p=0.002). However, after propensity score matching, no significant difference was found.

Conclusion: Our experience shows that a single-shot administration of gentamicin upon admission to the ED does not determine an increased incidence of AKI in septic patients.

Keywords: aminoglycosides, acute kidney injury, gentamicin, safety, sepsis


Historically, sepsis has a high mortality, up to 50-75% [1]. The development of new antibiotic molecules has led to a significant reduction, but it still ranges from 30-50% even if treated according to recent guidelines [2]. Furthermore, pathogenic microorganisms have continued to develop resistance under selective antibiotic pressure, making the therapies increasingly complex, particularly in empirical approaches.

The choice of appropriate antibiotic treatment can reduce mortality [3]. For this reason, the real benefit of empirical combination therapy was assessed, particularly in critically ill patients. According to the Surviving Sepsis campaign [4], aminoglycosides (AG) can be administered together with a β-lactam in patients with septic shock (defined by the Sepsis-3 criteria). The spectrum of antibiotics is broadened in particular towards Enterobacteriaceae ESBL and Pseudomonas aeruginosa; the bacteria are attacked in two different ways, thus accelerating the elimination of pathogens [4, 5] in a possible synergistic effect. For patients presenting symptoms compatible with sepsis, some authors propose a single dose or short course (48-72 hours) of an AG in combination with a β-lactam antibiotic (that instead is taken for several days) on admission to the Emergency Department (ED), immediately after blood cultures are taken [6]. The AG dosage is based on body weight (5 to 7 mg/kg for gentamicin), and it is administered together with the first dose of β-lactam, regardless of renal function.

A study by David et al. showed that the risk of AKI following a single dose or a short course of AG in the empirical treatment of bacteremia increases compared to a regimen without AG [7]. The aim of this study has been to investigate whether a single shot of AG in the ED is associated with AKI in sepsis patients.


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