Introduction: Pleural infection causes significant morbidity and mortality. An important aspect in the treatment of pleural infection is the pharmacokinetics of antibiotics, an area often neglected.
Areas covered: Pathophysiology of pleural infection and the importance of antibiotic therapy in the treatment of pleural infection are discussed. After reviewing all available literature on pharmacokinetics of antibiotics for pleural infection, the scarcity of data and knowledge gaps are highlighted.
Expert Opinion: This review aims to heighten awareness of the limited pharmacokinetic data of commonly used antibiotics for pleural infection. It serves to remind clinicians that choice of antibiotics for pleural infection should be based not only on bacterial sensitivity but also adequate delivery of antibiotics to the infected pleural cavity. Antibiotic pharmacokinetics may vary with agents used, pleural thickness and individual characteristics. Consideration must be given to insufficient pleural delivery of systemic antibiotics in patients lacking clinical improvement. Pleural infection research has disproportionately focused on fluid drainage. Optimizing delivery of effective antibiotic therapy to the pleural cavity must be regarded a key priority to progress clinical care. Large comprehensive cohort studies on pharmacokinetic variability are the essential next step. The possibility of intrapleural administration is also an area that warrants additional research.