BACKGROUND: The findings of randomised controlled trials (RCT), observational studies, and meta-analyses vary regarding the effectiveness of prolonged beta-lactam infusion. We aimed to identify the effectiveness of prolonged versus short-term infusion of antipseudomonal beta-lactams in patients with sepsis.
METHODS: We did a systematic review and meta-analysis to compare prolonged versus short-term intravenous infusion of antipseudomonal beta-lactams in patients with sepsis. Two authors independently searched PubMed, Scopus, and the Cochrane Library of clinical trials until November, 2016, without date or language restrictions. Any RCT comparing mortality or clinical efficacy of prolonged (continuous or >/=3 h) versus short-term (</=60 min) infusion of antipseudomonal beta-lactams for the treatment of patients with sepsis was eligible. Studies were excluded if they were not RCTs, the antibiotics in the two arms were not the same, neither mortality nor clinical efficacy was reported, only pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic outcomes were reported, or if ten or fewer patients were enrolled or randomised. Data were extracted in prespecified forms and we then did a meta-analysis using a Mantel-Haenszel random-effects model. The primary outcome was all-cause mortality at any timepoint. This meta-analysis is registered with the PROSPERO database, number CRD42016051678, and is reported according to PRISMA guidelines.
FINDINGS: 2196 articles were identified and screened, and 22 studies (1876 patients) were included in the meta-analysis. According to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation tool, the quality of evidence for mortality was high. Carbapenems, penicillins, and cephalosporins were studied. Patients with variable age, Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II score, severity of sepsis and renal function were enrolled. Prolonged infusion was associated with lower all-cause mortality than short-term infusion (risk ratio [RR] 0.70, 95% CI 0.56-0.87). Heterogeneity was not observed (p=0.93, I2=0%). The funnel plot and the Egger's test (p=0.44) showed no evidence of publication bias.
INTERPRETATION: Prolonged infusion of antipseudomonal beta-lactams for the treatment of patients with sepsis was associated with significantly lower mortality than short-term infusion. Further studies in specific subgroups of patients according to age, sepsis severity, degree of renal dysfunction, and immunocompetence are warranted.