Background: The preferred treatment for severe methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus infections is flucloxacillin, a small-spectrum antibiotic administered intravenously (IV) and orally. However, clinicians switch to the less preferred broad-spectrum antibiotics because of the variable absorption after oral administration of flucloxacillin. A classical oral absorption test (OAT) requires overnight fasting and interruption of IV therapy, and is laborious. In the current study, we investigated whether a simplified OAT can be utilized in a clinical setting to guide antibiotic treatment in patients with severe S. aureus infections. For this, OAT IV therapy is continued and oral dosing is performed after a one-hour fast and implemented after a small study.
Methods: In 196 patients receiving IV flucloxacillin by continuous infusion, a classical OAT (test A) or simplified version of the OAT (test B) was performed. In both tests, 1 g oral flucloxacillin was given and serum samples were taken prior to intake and at one and two hours after administration. Flucloxacillin concentrations were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography. Adequate absorption was defined as an increase of flucloxacillin concentration of at least 10 mg/l after one or two hours compared to baseline.
Results: In a sample of 196 patients (85 F/111 M), test A was performed in 28 patients, and test B in 168 patients. Age, gender, and baseline values of creatinine and albumin were similar in both groups. The maximal increase of flucloxacillin absorption was highly variable between patients. In 26 (13%) of the 196 patients, the flucloxacillin increase did not reach the value of 10 mg/l. The median (interquartile range, IQR) maximal increase of flucloxacillin absorption was 22.0 (15-31.25) mg/l for test A and 21.5 (13-32.25) mg/l for test B. There was no significant difference in maximal increase of flucloxacillin absorption between test A and B (p = 0.74), nor between males and females (p = 0.95). Age, creatinine, and albumin were not correlated with flucloxacillin levels.
Conclusions: The simplified version of the OAT is useful to identify patients with adequate oral flucloxacillin absorption, and to ensure the effective continuation of an oral small-spectrum treatment.