Bacterial concentrations in pus and infected peritoneal fluid--implications for bactericidal activity of antibiotics

J Antimicrob Chemother. 1998 Aug;42(2):227-32. doi: 10.1093/jac/42.2.227.


Little is known about how many bacteria are present at an infectious focus at the onset of antibiotic therapy. The number of cfu was determined in pus and infected peritoneal fluids obtained from 41 patients. Pathogens were detected in 71% of specimens. There were high concentrations of bacteria in culture-positive samples, in both soft-tissue and peritoneal infections, averaging 2 x 10(8) cfu/mL. These concentrations were much higher than the standard inoculum size used in in-vitro susceptibility tests, 5 x 10(5) cfu/mL. The impact of this discrepancy on antibacterial efficacy was studied with amikacin, ciprofloxacin, imipenem and piperacillin against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. The inhibitory and bactericidal activities of amikacin and ciprofloxacin determined with high inocula were two to four times lower than with standard inocula, whereas the activity of piperacillin was diminished at least 128-fold. Similar activity was observed with these drugs in Mueller-Hinton broth and peritoneal fluid. The bactericidal activity of imipenem was reduced in peritoneal fluid. Thus, conditions prevailing at the infection site may compromise antibiotic activity determined in vitro.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Abscess / microbiology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anus Diseases / microbiology
  • Ascitic Fluid / microbiology*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects*
  • Escherichia coli Infections / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Rectal Diseases / microbiology
  • Soft Tissue Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*
  • Suppuration / microbiology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents