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Ampicillin levels in sputum, serum, and saliva
  1. Sheila M. Stewart,
  2. Mary Fisher,
  3. Joy E. Young,
  4. W. Lutz
  1. Department of Bacteriology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh
  2. Department of Respiratory Diseases, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh
  3. Department of Social Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh
  4. Wellcome Laboratory, City Hospital, Edinburgh


    The ampicillin levels in sputum, serum, and saliva from 40 patients receiving a dose of 250 mg., 26 patients receiving a dose of 500 mg., and 11 patients receiving a dose of 1 g. were estimated. The ampicillin was given orally four times daily.

    The 1-2 hour and 2-3 hour sputum levels were similar in individual patients. There was no difference in the range or mean sputum or saliva levels between specimens from patients receiving 250 mg. and 500 mg., but the levels were significantly higher after the 1 g. dose. The mean serum level showed a small increase after 500 mg. ampicillin as compared with the 250 mg. dose and a big increase after the 1 g. dose: only the latter difference was significant. The sputum levels were approximately 30 to 40 times lower than the corresponding serum levels. There was considerable scatter in the sputum level for any level of ampicillin in the serum: in only two of the 1-2 hour sputum specimens was there no detectable ampicillin.

    There was no correlation between the sputum levels and either the body weight or the dose in milligrams per kilogram. There was no evidence that corticosteroids or diuretics affected the sputum level.

    It was not possible to demonstrate any relationship between the purulence of the sputum and the level of ampicillin after doses of 250 mg. or 500 mg., but higher levels were found in the more purulent specimens after 1 g. doses.

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