We aimed to assess the pharmacokinetics of vancomycin in critically ill infants, and to evaluate the standard recommended dose of 70 mg/kg 6 hourly. All infant's admitted to the Baragwanath Hospital ICU who had arterial lines in situ, and for whom vancomycin 10 mg/kg 6 hourly was prescribed for an infective insult and who had parental consent, were included in the study. Vancomycin was infused over 60 minutes. Serum samples were taken immediately before the dose and at 30, 60, 120 and 300 minutes after the end of the vancomycin infusion, on days 2 and 8 of therapy. Extrapolated peak concentration (Cmax), trough concentration (Cmin), apparent volume of distribution (Vd), elimination half-life (t 1/2 (el)) and clearance (CL) were determined for each patient. Day 2 values were compared with those of day 8. Day 2 serum concentrations were assayed on 20 patients and day 8 concentrations in 15. The mean vancomycin Vd on day 2 (0.81 l/kg) was significantly (P = 0.007) larger than that on day 8 (0.44 l/kg). The change in Vd resulted in a significant change in mean Cmax (29.1 vs 35.5 μg/ml) (P = 0.02) and mean t 1/2 (el) (5.3 vs 3.4 h) (P = 0.01) over the treatment period. Critically ill infants displayed a large initial volume of distribution which probably resulted from aggressive fluid resuscitation. This also results in a large variation in other pharmacokinetic parameters, namely Cmax and t 1/2 (el). Although the routine monitoring of vancomycin serum concentrations remain controversial, we feel that in view of these large pharmacokinetic variations, the critically ill infant is a specific group where monitoring of vancomycin serum levels is indicated.
- Antibiotics: vancomycin, pharmacokinetics