The most important pharmacodynamic parameter for beta-lactam antibiotics has been shown to be the time above the MIC, which is used as an argument to administer beta-lactam antibiotics by continuous infusion. Studies in vitro and in laboratory animals comparing efficacy of continuous and intermittent infusion of beta-lactam antibiotics generally show continuous infusion to be more efficacious. While comparative trials in humans are scarce and a significant difference was only found in subgroup analysis in one study, several case-reports support the use of continuous infusion. Arguments in favour and against continuous infusion are discussed. Although dose-ranging studies have not yet been performed in humans, the results from in-vitro and in-vivo experiments indicate that 4 x MIC for the infecting bacterium would be the target concentration. Pharmacokinetic studies which have been performed in humans during continuous infusion show that serum concentrations can be predicted from total clearance or, using population pharmacokinetic modelling, the elimination rate constant as obtained during intermittent infusion. A nomogram is presented which allows calculation of the daily dose to obtain the target steady state blood concentrations suggested by the susceptibility of the infecting bacterium, usually 4 x MIC. For bacteria with a low MIC, the daily dose may be substantially lower than that used in conventional dosing regimens, while in infections which are difficult to treat as a result of more resistant bacteria, continuous infusion may be more effective than an equivalent bolus dose.

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Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Mouton, J., & Vinks, A. A. (1996). Is continuous infusion of beta-lactam antibiotics worthwhile?--efficacy and pharmacokinetic considerations. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. Retrieved from