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Vanishing bile duct syndrome (VBDS) refers to a group of acquired disorders associated with progressive destruction and disappearance of the intrahepatic bile ducts. We report a case of meropenem-induced VBDS in a patient who had undergone surgical repair of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm. Meropenem was used to treat Serratia marcescens isolated from blood, urine, sputum, and wound swab cultures. The patient developed severe mixed liver injury with no obstruction noted in radiological imaging. Because of the patient's increasing serum bilirubin level, VBDS was suspected and the meropenem was therefore changed to ciprofloxacin on postoperative day 18. Although the bilirubin level decreased, meropenem was restarted 3 days later because of clinical concerns regarding worsening fever and sepsis. Restarting meropenem was associated with an immediate increase in the serum bilirubin level. This further increase in bilirubin after reintroduction of meropenem strongly suggested meropenem-induced VBDS. The antibiotic therapy was changed from meropenem to ciprofloxacin and metronidazole, leading to a dramatic decrease in the bilirubin level to normal within a few weeks. In patients receiving meropenem, VBDS as a cause of deranged liver function and cholestasis should be considered after ruling out mechanical and other probable causes of liver injury.


Alexandr Zubarev, Kavi Haji, Matthew Li, Ravindranath Tiruvoipati, John Botha. Meropenem-induced vanishing bile duct syndrome: A case report. The Journal of international medical research. 2020 Aug;48(8):300060520937842

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PMID: 32865076

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