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Hagen, Alexandra; Eichinger, Anna; Meyer-Buehn, Melanie; Schober, Tilmann and Huebner, Johannes (2020): Comparison of antibiotic and acyclovir usage before and after the implementation of an on-site FilmArray meningitis/encephalitis panel in an academic tertiary pediatric hospital: a retrospective observational study. In: BMC Pediatrics, Vol. 20, No. 1, 56

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Background: Prompt initiation of empiric therapy is common practice in case of suspected meningitis or encephalitis. However, in children the most common pathogens are viruses that usually do not require and are not covered by the applied anti-infective treatment. Novel multiplex PCR (mPCR) panels provide rapid on-site diagnostic testing for a variety of pathogens. This study compared empiric antibiotic and acyclovir usage before and after the introduction of an on-site FilmArray Meningitis/Encephalitis Panel (FA ME Panel). Methods: We retrospectively compared data for empiric antibiotic and acyclovir usage between pediatric patients with suspected central nervous system (CNS) infection receiving mPCR testing and a matched historical control group. Patients were matched by age and suspected CNS infection. We included all patients for whom empiric antibiotics and/or acyclovir were prescribed. Results Each study group consisted of 46 patients with 29 (63.0%) infants and 17 (37.0%) older children. A viral pathogen was diagnosed in 5/46 (10.9%) patients in the control group (all enteroviruses) and in 14/46 (30.4%) patients in the mPCR group (enterovirus n = 9;human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) n = 5), (p = 0.038)). Length of Therapy (LoT) and Days of Therapy (DoT) for antibiotics were significantly lower for infants (4.0 vs. 3.0, p = 0.038 and 8.0 vs. 6.0, p = 0.015, respectively). Acyclovir therapy was significantly shorter for both, infants and older children (3.0 vs. 1.0 day, p < 0.001 for both age groups). Conclusion:;The findings of our study suggest that the introduction of a FA ME Panel into clinical routine procedures is associated with a significantly reduced LoT and DoT of empiric anti-infective treatment in children with suspected meningoencephalitis. The largest effect was observed in infants.

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