Background: The emergence of multi-drug resistant Gram-negatives (MDRGNs) coupled with an alarming scarcity of new antibiotics has forced the optimization of the therapeutic potential of available antibiotics. To exploit the time above the minimum inhibitory concentration mechanism of β-lactams, prolonging their infusion may improve outcomes. The primary objective of this meta-analysis was to determine if prolonged β-lactam infusion resulted in decreased mortality and improved clinical cure compared to intermittent β-lactam infusion. Methods: Relevant studies were identified from searches of MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CENTRAL. Heterogeneity was assessed qualitatively, in addition to I 2 and Chi-square statistics. Pooled relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated using Mantel-Haenszel random-effects models. Results: Fourteen randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were included. Prolonged infusion β-lactams were not associated with decreased mortality (n= 982; RR 0.92; 95% CI:0.61-1.37) or clinical cure (n = 1380; RR 1.00 95% CI:0.94-1.06) compared to intermittent infusions. Subgroup analysis for β-lactam subclasses and equivalent total daily β-lactam doses yielded similar results. Most studies had notable methodological flaws. Conclusions: No clinical advantage was observed for prolonged infusion β-lactams. The limited number of studies with MDRGNs precluded evaluation of prolonged infusion of β-lactams for this subgroup. A large, multicenter RCT with critically ill patients infected with MDRGNs is needed.
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