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Central And Peripheral Nervous System Effects
Encephalopathy has been reported in association with cerebellar toxicity characterized by ataxia, dizziness, and dysarthria. CNS lesions seen on MRI have been described in reports of encephalopathy. CNS symptoms are generally reversible within days to weeks upon discontinuation of metronidazole. CNS lesions seen on MRI have also been described as reversible.
Peripheral neuropathy, mainly of sensory type has been reported and is characterized by numbness or paresthesia of an extremity.
Convulsive seizures have been reported in patients treated with metronidazole.
Aseptic meningitis: Cases of aseptic meningitis have been reported with metronidazole. Symptoms can occur within hours of dose administration and generally resolve after metronidazole therapy is discontinued.
The appearance of abnormal neurologic signs and symptoms demands the prompt evaluation of the benefit/risk ratio of the continuation of therapy (see ADVERSE REACTIONS).
Patients with hepatic impairment metabolize metronidazole slowly, with resultant accumulation of metronidazole in the plasma. For patients with severe hepatic impairment (Child-Pugh C), a reduced dose of FLAGYL is recommended. For patients with mild to moderate hepatic impairment, no dosage adjustment is needed but these patients should be monitored for metronidazole associated adverse events (see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
Patients with end-stage renal disease may excrete metronidazole and metabolites slowly in the urine, resulting in significant accumulation of metronidazole metabolites. Monitoring for metronidazole associated adverse events is recommended (see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY).
Known or previously unrecognized candidiasis may present more prominent symptoms during therapy with FLAGYL and requires treatment with a candidacidal agent.
Use in Patients with Blood Dyscrasias
Metronidazole is a nitroimidazole and should be used with caution in patients with evidence of or history of blood dyscrasia. A mild leukopenia has been observed during its administration; however, no persistent hematologic abnormalities attributable to metronidazole have been observed in clinical studies. Total and differential leukocyte counts are recommended before and after therapy.
Drug-Resistant Bacteria and Parasites
Prescribing FLAGYL in the absence of a proven or strongly suspected bacterial or parasitic infection or a prophylactic indication is unlikely to provide benefit to the patient and increases the risk of the development of drug-resistant bacteria and parasites.
Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility
Tumors affecting the liver, lungs, mammary, and lymphatic tissues have been detected in several studies of metronidazole in rats and mice, but not hamsters.
Pulmonary tumors have been observed in all six reported studies in the mouse, including one study in which the animals were dosed on an intermittent schedule (administration during every fourth week only). Malignant liver tumors were increased in male mice treated at approximately 1500 mg/m² (similar to the maximum recommended daily dose, based on body surface area comparisons). Malignant lymphomas and pulmonary neoplasms were also increased with lifetime feeding of the drug to mice. Mammary and hepatic tumors were increased among female rats administered oral metronidazole compared to concurrent controls. Two lifetime tumorigenicity studies in hamsters have been performed and reported to be negative.
Metronidazole has shown mutagenic activity in in vitro assay systems including the Ames test. Studies in mammals in vivo have failed to demonstrate a potential for genetic damage.
Metronidazole failed to produce any adverse effects on fertility or testicular function in male rats at doses up at 400 mg/kg/day (similar to the maximum recommended clinical dose, based on body surface area comparisons) for 28 days. However, rats treated at the same dose for 6 weeks or longer were infertile and showed severe degeneration of the seminiferous epithelium in the testes as well as marked decreases in testicular spermatid counts and epididymal sperm counts. Fertility was restored in most rats after an eight week, drug-free recovery period.
Pregnancy Category B
There are no adequate and well controlled studies of FLAGYL in pregnant women. There are published data from case-control studies, cohort studies, and 2 meta-analyses that include more than 5000 pregnant women who used metronidazole during pregnancy. Many studies included first trimester exposures. One study showed an increased risk of cleft lip, with or without cleft palate, in infants exposed to metronidazole in-utero; however, these findings were not confirmed. In addition, more than ten randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials enrolled more than 5000 pregnant women to assess the use of antibiotic treatment (including metronidazole) for bacterial vaginosis on the incidence of preterm delivery. Most studies did not show an increased risk for congenital anomalies or other adverse fetal outcomes following metronidazole exposure during pregnancy. Three studies conducted to assess the risk of infant cancer following metronidazole exposure during pregnancy did not show an increased risk; however, the ability of these studies to detect such a signal was limited.
Metronidazole crosses the placental barrier and its effects on the human fetal organogenesis are not known. Reproduction studies have been performed in rats, rabbits, and mice at doses similar to the maximum recommended human dose based on body surface area comparisons. There was no evidence of harm to the fetus due to metronidazole.
Metronidazole is present in human milk at concentrations similar to maternal serum levels, and infant serum levels can be close to or comparable to infant therapeutic levels. Because of the potential for tumorigenicity shown for metronidazole in mouse and rat studies, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother. Alternatively, a nursing mother may choose to pump and discard human milk for the duration of metronidazole therapy, and for 24 hours after therapy ends and feed her infant stored human milk or formula.
In elderly geriatric patients, monitoring for metronidazole associated adverse events is recommended (see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, PRECAUTIONS). Decreased liver function in geriatric patients can result in increased concentrations of metronidazole that may necessitate adjustment of metronidazole dosage (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).
Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients have not been established, except for the treatment of amebiasis.This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Last reviewed on RxList: 8/7/2015
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