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Medicine (MD/DO)
3rd Generation Cephalosporin

Master 3rd Generation Cephalosporins with a Mnemonic

Picmonic uses powerful 3rd generation cephalosporin mnemonics to make memorizing these meds a breeze. Our science-backed approach with fun characters, stories, and quizzes helps you conquer key information and master infectious disease with ease!

3rd Generation Cephalosporin

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3rd Generation Cephalosporin

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Cephalosporins are beta-lactam antibiotics that are derived from Acremonium fungus. Like other beta-lactams, these antibiotics work by inhibiting bacterial cell wall synthesis. However, they are not as susceptible to penicillinases. There are traditionally five generations of cephalosporins classified based on their antimicrobial characteristics. Each new generation provides a more extended spectrum and has greater gram-negative bactericidal properties than the previous generation. Third generation cephalosporins such as ceftriaxone, cefotaxime, and ceftazidime are especially known for their broad spectrum of activity and further increased activity against gram-negative organisms resistant to other beta-lactams compared to the older generations. Ceftriaxone, especially, is commonly used for gonorrhea infections.

This third-generation cephalosporin antibiotic (trade name: Claforan) is used to treat infections of the respiratory tract, connective tissues, urinary tract, genital tract, meninges, and blood. It can cross the blood-brain barrier. It offers coverage against most gram-negative bacteria, except for Pseudomonas. It is also effective against gram-positive cocci, except for enterococcus.


This third-generation cephalosporin antibiotic (trade name: Rocephin) is used for community-acquired pneumonia, Haemophilus influenzae infection, and can be used for bacterial meningitis. More commonly, a single intramuscular injection can be given to effectively treat gonorrhea. Furthermore, ceftriaxone can cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB).


Cefdinir (trade name: Omnicef) is a third-generation cephalosporin commonly used to treat pneumonia, bronchitis, ear infections, sinusitis, pharyngitis, tonsillitis, and skin infections. The pediatric formulation of cefdinir may bind to iron in the digestive tract, which can cause red discoloration of the stool in rare instances. Other side effects include diarrhea, vaginal infections or inflammation, nausea, headache, and abdominal pain.


This third-generation cephalosporin (trade name: Fortaz) is used to treat gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. However, unlike most third-generation agents, it is active against Pseudomonas.


Ceftazidime is the third-generation cephalosporin that has antimicrobial coverage of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Serious Gram-Negative Bacteria Resistant to Other Beta-Lactams
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Third-generation cephalosporins are commonly used to combat serious gram-negative infections that are typically resistant to other beta-lactam antibiotics.


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