Background: Therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) of beta-lactam antibiotics has become a valuable tool to guide dosing in critically ill patients. The main goal of the study was to compare two routinely used techniques for beta-lactam TDM in intensive care unit (ICU) patient samples, namely isotope dilution liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (ID-LC-MS/MS) and high-performance liquid chromatography combined with ultra-violet detection (HPLC-UV).
Methods: A set of 80 sera/plasma samples from ICU patients receiving therapeutic meropenem or piperacillin dosage was investigated. Sample duplicates and quality assessment samples were assayed in parallel with an in-house LC-MS/MS and a commercially available IVD HPLC-UV kit. A pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) target with ≥ 22.5 mg/L for piperacillin and ≥ 8.0 mg/L for meropenem was used for medical assessment of trough sample (n = 40) antibiotic concentrations.
Results: There was no difference between serum and Li-heparin plasmas. Concentration deviations were found for 4% of meropenem and 17% of piperacillin samples. Eliminating the influence of the systemic bias of approximately 10% for piperacillin, measurement discrepancies ≥ 25% between LC-MS/MS and HPLC-UV analyses were only observed for ≈ 4 - 6% of all samples. In the same way, identical PK/PD target attainment rates of 50 - 60% could be obtained.
Conclusions: After correction of the analytical bias for piperacillin measurements, both methods showed comparable results, also with respect to clinical decision limits. HPLC-UV analysis is an adequate TDM methodology for testing of beta-lactam antibiotics in centers where no special knowledge in LC-MS/MS based TDM is present. However, potential matrix effects, interferences, and calibration issues for both methods must be taken into account.