Although a common practice, follow-up blood cultures (FUBCs) may not be necessary in otherwise clinically stable or improving patients with aerobic gram-negative bacteremia. This is probably due to the often-transient nature of gram-negative bloodstream infections and less propensity of these organisms to cause intravascular infections (eg, endocarditis) compared to gram-positives. 1
A 2017 study addressing the value of FUBCs in gram-negative bacteremia found that repeat positive blood cultures were uncommon with positive results not associated with mortality or higher ICU admissions. 1 Specifically, 17 FUBCs had to be drawn to yield 1 positive result. Although the numbers of positive FUBCs were too low for in-depth analysis, it was concluded that FUBCs added little value in the management of gram-negative bacteremias.
In contrast, FUBCs are recommended in the following situations: 1-3
- Staphylocccus aureus bacteremia given the propensity of this organism to cause intravascular (eg, endocarditis) and metastatic infections.
- Presumed or documented endocarditis or intravascular device infections (eg, intravenous catheters and pacemakers) to document timely clearance of bacteremia
- Infections involving organisms that may be difficult to clear such as fungemia or multi-drug resistant pathogens.
As with many things in medicine, clinical context is important before ordering tests and blood cultures are no different. The urge to order FUBCs should also be balanced with the possibility of having to deal with contaminants.
- Canzoneri CN, Akhavan BJ, Tosur Z et al. Follow-up blood cultures in gram-negative bacteremia: Are they needed? Clin Infect Dis 2017;65:1776-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29020307
- Tabriz MS, Riederer K, Baran J, et al. Repeating blood cultures during hospital stay: Practice pattern at a teaching hospital and a proposal for guidelines. Clin Microbiol Infect 2004;10:624-27. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1469-0691.2004.00893.x
- Mylotte JM, Tayara A. Blood cultures: Clinical aspects and controversies. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis 200;19:157-63. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10795587
In most situations, you will most likely choose an antibiotic based on the laboratory reporting of “Susceptible” (vs “Resistant”), not the actual MIC value of the drug and that’s fine.
However, there may be a few instances when you may need to pay more attention to the actual MICs. Many experts recommend caution when “high” MICs within a susceptible range are observed in the following situations:
- Vancomycin MIC >1 ug/ml in Staphylococcal aureus (methicillin-sensitive or –resistant) infections because of its possible association with clinical failure and, at times, increased mortality1,2.
- Ciprofloxacin or levofloxacin MIC>0.25 ug/ml in bacteremia caused by Gram-negative bacilli (including Enterobacteriacae as well as Pseudomonas aeruginosa) because of its association with an adverse outcome (eg, longer average hospital stay post-culture and duration of infection) but not necessarily mortality3-5.
- Levofloxacin MIC ≥ 1.0 ug/ml in Streptococcus pneumoniae infections, because of its association with an adverse clinical outcome based on drug pharmacodynamics and anecdotal reports of treatment failure6,7.
- Jacob JT, DiazGranados CA. High vancomycin minimum inhibitory concentration and clinical outomces in adults with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections: a meta-analysis. Int J Infect Dis 2013;17:e93-e100. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3780595/
- Kalil AC, Van Schooneveld TC, Fey PD, et al. Association between vancomycin minimum inhibitory concentration and mortality among patients with Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA 2014;312:1552-1564. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25321910
- DeFife R, Scheetz MH, Feinglass J, et al. Effect of differences in MIC values on clinical outcomes in patients with bloodstream infections caused by Gram-negative organisms treated with levofloxacin. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2009;53:1074-79. http://aac.asm.org/content/53/3/1074.full
- Falagas ME, Tansarli GS, Rafailidis PI, et al. Impact of antibiotic MIC on infection outcome in patients with susceptible Gram-negative bacteria a systematic review and meta-analysis. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2012;56:4214-22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22615292
- Zelenitsky SA, Harding GKM, Sun S, et al. Treatment and outcome of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteremia: an antibiotic pharmacodynamics analysis. J Antimicrob Chemother 2003;52:668-674. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12951354
- Davidson R, Cavalcanti R, Brunton JL, et al. Resistance to levofloxacin and failure of treatment of pneumococcal pneumonia. N Engl J Med 2002;346:. 2002;346:747-50. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11882730
- De Cueto M, Rodriguez JM, Soriano MJ, et al. Fatal levofloxacin failure in treatment of a bacteremic patient infected with Streptococcus pneumoniae with a preexisting parC mutation. J Clin Microbiol 2008;46:1558-1560. http://jcm.asm.org/content/46/4/1558.full
Contributed in part by Nick Van Hise, Pharm.D., BCPS, Infectious Diseases Clinical Pharmacist, Edward-Elmhurst Hospitals, Naperville, Illinois.
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