Drugs A - Z

Gentamicin Sulfate Solution for injection

It is used to treat certain kinds of bacterial infections

Generic Name: gentamicin  |  Brand Name: Septopal

Brand Names: Garamycin, Cidomycin, Septopal, Gentamicin Sulfate, Injectable, Gentamicin Sulfate-Sodium Chloride

There is an FDA Alert for this drug. Click here to view it.

  • Patients should be under close clinical observation because of potential ototoxicity and nephrotoxicity.
  • Neurotoxicity (manifested as both auditory and vestibular ototoxicity) can occur, usually in patients with preexisting renal damage and in those with normal renal function who receive doses higher or treatment longer than recommended. Aminoglycoside-induced ototoxicity usually is irreversible. Other neurotoxicity manifestations include numbness, skin tingling, muscle twitching, and seizures.
  • Potentially nephrotoxic. Risk of nephrotoxicity is greater in patients with impaired renal function and in those who receive high dosage or prolonged treatment.
  • Monitor renal and eighth-cranial nerve function closely, especially in patients with known or suspected renal impairment at start of treatment and also in those whose renal function is initially normal but develop renal dysfunction during treatment. Evaluate urine for decreased specific gravity and increased excretion of protein, cells, and casts; periodically determine BUN, Scr, and Clcr.
  • Serial audiograms should be obtained, if feasible, in patients old enough to be tested, particularly in high-risk patients. Discontinue or adjust dosage if there is evidence of ototoxicity (dizziness, vertigo, tinnitus, roaring in the ears, hearing loss) or nephrotoxicity. Rarely, changes in eighth-cranial nerve and renal function may not manifest until after the drug is discontinued.
  • Monitor serum gentamicin concentrations, when feasible, to assure adequate concentrations and avoid potentially toxic and prolonged peak concentrations (>12 mcg/mL) and avoid trough concentrations >2 mcg/mL. Excessive peak and/or trough serum concentrations may increase risk of renal and eighth-cranial nerve toxicity. In the event of overdose or toxic reactions, hemodialysis may aid in removal of gentamicin, especially if renal function is, or becomes, compromised. Lower concentrations are removed by peritoneal dialysis compared with hemodialysis.
  • Avoid concurrent and/or sequential use of other neurotoxic or nephrotoxic drugs (systemic or topical), particularly other aminoglycosides, cephaloridine (no longer available in US), viomycin, polymyxin B, colistin, cisplatin, and vancomycin. Other factors that may increase risk of toxicity are advanced age and dehydration.
  • Avoid concurrent use of potent diuretics (e.g., ethacrynic acid, furosemide) since diuretics themselves may cause ototoxicity and may enhance toxicity by altering serum and tissue aminoglycoside concentrations.
  • Aminoglycosides can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman.

What is this medicine?

GENTAMICIN (jen ta MYE sin) is an aminoglycoside antibiotic. It is used to treat certain kinds of bacterial infections. It will not work for colds, flu, or other viral infections.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
  • balance problems
  • hearing problems
  • kidney disease
  • myasthenia gravis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to gentamicin, aminoglycosides, other medicines, sulfites, foods, dyes or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

This medicine is for injection into a muscle or infusion into a vein. It is usually given by a health care professional in a hospital or clinic setting.

If you get this medicine at home, you will be taught how to prepare and give this medicine. Use exactly as directed. Take your medicine at regular intervals. Do not take your medicine more often than directed. Take all of your medicine as directed even if you think you are better. Do not skip doses or stop your medicine early.

It is important that you put your used needles and syringes in a special sharps container. Do not put them in a trash can. If you do not have a sharps container, call your pharmacist or healthcare provider to get one.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, use only that dose. Do not use double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medicine?

Do not take this medicine with any of the following medications:
  • cidofovir

This medicine may also interact with the following medications:

  • acyclovir
  • cisplatin
  • colistin
  • cyclosporine
  • diuretics
  • foscarnet
  • ganciclovir
  • medicines used during surgery for sleep or muscle relaxation
  • other antibiotics

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

Your condition will be monitored carefully while you are receiving this medicine.

Tell your doctor or health care professional if you have any hearing problems or problems passing urine.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medicine?

Elderly patients are more likely to get serious side effects. Serious side effects with gentamicin include:
  • allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
  • breathing problems
  • changes in hearing
  • confused, dizzy, disoriented
  • fever
  • loss of balance
  • muscle twitch
  • numb, tingling pain
  • redness, blistering, peeling or loosening of the skin, including inside the mouth
  • seizures
  • trouble passing urine or change in the amount of urine
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusually weak or tired

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your doctor or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • nausea, vomiting
  • pain at site where injected

Where should I keep my medicine?

Keep out of the reach of children.

If you are using this medicine at home, you will be instructed on how to store this medicine. Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date on the label.

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Last Updated: April 28, 2009
Licensed from
The Healthline Site, its content, such as text, graphics, images, search results, and other material contained on the Healthline Site ("Content"), its services, and any information or material posted on the Healthline Site by third parties are provided for informational purposes only. None of the foregoing is a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Healthline Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Please read the Terms of Service for more information regarding use of the Healthline Site.