Purpose of review
The aims of this review are to discuss the impact of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
(ECMO) on antibiotic pharmacokinetics
and how this phenomenon may influence antibiotic dosing requirements in critically ill adult ECMO patients.
The body of literature describing antibiotic pharmacokinetic and dosing requirements during ECMO support in critically adult patients is currently scarce. However, significant development has recently been made in this research area and more clinical pharmacokinetic data have emerged to inform antibiotic dosing in these patients. Essentially, these clinical data highlight several important points that clinicians need to consider when dosing antibiotics in critically ill adult patients receiving ECMO: physicochemical properties of antibiotics can influence the degree of drug loss/sequestration in the ECMO circuit; earlier pharmacokinetic data, which were largely derived from the neonatal and paediatric population, are certainly useful but cannot be extrapolated to the critically ill adult population; modern ECMO circuitry has minimal adsorption and impact on the pharmacokinetics
of most antibiotics; and pharmacokinetic changes in ECMO patients are more reflective of critical illness rather than the ECMO therapy itself.
An advanced understanding of the pharmacokinetic alterations in critically ill patients
receiving ECMO is essential to provide optimal antibiotic dosing in these complex patients pending robust dosing guidelines. Antibiotic dosing in this patient population should generally align with the recommended dosing strategies for critically ill patients
not on ECMO support. Performing therapeutic drug monitoring
(TDM) to guide antibiotic dosing in this patient population appears useful.