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Open Forum Infect Dis. 2018 Jun 8;5(6):ofy139. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofy139. eCollection 2018 Jun.

Can the Ceftriaxone Breakpoints Be Increased Without Compromising Patient Outcomes?

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
Microbiology Laboratory, Department of Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
Division of Infectious Diseases, Baltimore, Maryland.
Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.
Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.



In 2010, the Clinical Laboratory and Standards Institute recommended a 3-fold lowering of ceftriaxone breakpoints to 1 mcg/mL for Enterobacteriaceae. Supportive clinical data at the time were from fewer than 50 patients. We compared the clinical outcomes of adults with Enterobacteriaceae bloodstream infections treated with ceftriaxone compared with matched patients (with exact matching on ceftriaxone minimum inhibitory concentrations [MICs]) treated with extended-spectrum agents to determine if ceftriaxone breakpoints could be increased without negatively impacting patient outcomes.


A retrospective cohort study was conducted at 3 large academic medical centers and included patients with Enterobacteriaceae bacteremia with ceftriaxone MICs of 2 mcg/mL treated with ceftriaxone or extended-spectrum β-lactams (ie, cefepime, piperacillin/tazobactam, meropenem, or imipenem/cilastatin) between 2008 and 2014; 1:2 nearest neighbor propensity score matching was performed to estimate the odds of recurrent bacteremia and mortality within 30 days.


Propensity score matching yielded 108 patients in the ceftriaxone group and 216 patients in the extended-spectrum β-lactam group, with both groups well-balanced on demographics, preexisting medical conditions, severity of illness, source of bacteremia, and source control interventions. No difference in recurrent bacteremia (odds ratio [OR], 1.16; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.49-2.73) or mortality (OR, 1.27; 95% CI, 0.56-2.91) between the treatment groups was observed for patients with isolates with ceftriaxone MICs of 2 mcg/mL. Only 6 isolates (1.6%) with ceftriaxone MICs of 2 mcg/mL were extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)-producing.


Our findings suggest that patient outcomes are similar when receiving ceftriaxone vs extended-spectrum agents for the treatment of Enterobacteriaceae bloodstream infections with ceftriaxone MICs of 2 mcg/mL. This warrants consideration of adjusting the ceftriaxone susceptibility breakpoint from 1 to 2 mcg/mL, as a relatively small increase in the antibiotic breakpoint could have the potential to limit the use of large numbers of extended-spectrum antibiotic agents.


ESBL; antibiotic breakpoints; bacteremia; ceftriaxone

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