High rifampicin-resistant TB cure rates and prevention of severe ototoxicity after replacing the injectable by linezolid in early stage of hearing loss.

The short treatment regimen (STR) achieves over 80% cure in rifampicin-resistant tuberculosis (RR-TB) patients. However, ototoxicity induced by the injectable is a concern. This is the first study to evaluate the replacement of injectables by linezolid in patients with audiometry abnormalities at baseline or during the treatment.We conducted a retrospective cohort study of all RR-TB patients started on the STR between 2016 - June 2019 in Niger. Patients underwent audiometry every 2 months in 2016, and every month since 2017.Of 195 patients, 16.9% (33/195) received linezolid from the start (n=17), or switched from injectables to linezolid during treatment (n=16), based on audiometry abnormalities. In 2016 two patients developed severe ototoxicity despite switching to linezolid. Since 2017, no patient developed severe hearing loss or complete deafness. Severe hematologicalal toxicity was observed in 18.1% (6/33) of patients on linezolid, none of which was life threatening. The use of linezolid was associated with severe but manageable adverse events (hazard ratio 8.9; 95%CI 2.5-31.5; p=0.001). A total of 90.9% (30/33) of patients on a linezolid containing STR were cured, and none experienced treatment failure. Three died, but not due to adverse events.Baseline and monthly audiometry monitoring and using linezolid after detection of hearing abnormalities appears effective to prevent severe ototoxicity, while keeping high treatment success and manageable adverse events.

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