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Imipenem in combination with cilastatin (inhibitor of enzyme dehydropeptidase) is used to treat bacterial infections of lung (pneumonia), urinary tract, abdomen, blood, skin and soft tissue. It is also used to treat infections during or after delivery. It may be used in the management of fever of patients with reduced immunity due to low white blood cells (neutropenia).

How it works

Imipenem belongs to a group of medicines called carbapenem beta-lactam antibiotics. It kills bacteria by inhibiting bacterial cell wall (outer coating of bacteria) formation. As a result, the bacterial cell wall is weakened and ruptures, thereby killing the bacteria.

Common side effects

Decreased urination, Bruise, Bleeding, Chills, Confusion, Convulsion, Diarrhoea, Abdominal pain, Dizziness, Shortness of breath, Fever, Rash, Itching, Sore mouth, Sore throat, Stomach upset, Facial swelling, Wheezing, Vomiting


Expert advice

  • Imipenem is given as a powder for solution for intravenous infusion by a doctor or nurse using a suitable infusion fluid.
  • Do not start or continue the imipenem, if you have kidney, liver, or urinary problems; history of fits (seizures) or central nervous system problems (e.g. tremors).
  • Do not take imipenem if you experience inflammation of the large intestine (colitis) or any other gastrointestinal disease.
  • Do not drive or operate heavy machinery because you may feel sleepy or dizzy while being treated with imipenem.
  • Avoid using imipenem, if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is imipenem a penicillin or beta lactam drug?
Imipenem is not a penicillin drug. It is a carbapenem beta-lactam antibiotic.
Q. Is imipenem nephrotoxic or cause seizures?
Ganciclovir along with imipenem can increase risk of seizures. Imipenem generally not been shown to cause nephrotoxicity. Please consult your doctor if you experience these side effects.
Q. What is imipenem-cilastatin used for?
Imipenem and cilastatin are used as combination therapy for bacterial infections. Cilastatin reduces the inactivation of imipenem from enzymes released from kidney and extends their spectrum of activity.
Q. What organisms does imipenem cover?
Imipenem is active against most of the gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, aerobes as well as anaerobes. It is effective against pseudomonas, legionella, and acinetobacter, and many other; not treatable by other antibiotics.

Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)