Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Staphylococcal bacteraemia, fusidic acid, and jaundice.

Br Med J 1980; 280 doi: (Published 21 June 1980) Cite this as: Br Med J 1980;280:1495
  1. M W Humble,
  2. S Eykyn,
  3. I Phillips


    Fusidic acid was used to treat 131 out of 250 patients with staphylococcal bacteraemia over 10 years. Other antimicrobial agents were given to the 119 remaining patients. Thirty-seven patients were already jaundiced before antibiotic treatment was started. Jaundice developed during treatment in 38 out of 112 patients given fusidic acid (34%) and in two out of 101 patients given other antimicrobials. The incidence of jaundice was higher in patients given fusidic acid intravenously (48%) rather than by mouth (13%). Jaundice appeared within 48 hours after the administration of fusidic acid in 93% of these cases. When the drug was stopped serum bilirubin concentrations fell to normal values within four days in those patients in whom they had been previously normal and who survived the bacteraemic episode. Fusidic acid was associated with increasing jaundice in 13 of 19 patients (68%) already jaundiced before it was given. In six out of 32 patients who developed jaundice while receiving intravenous fusidic acid serum alkaline phosphatase activity was raised suggestive of cholestatic jaundice. The mechanism in the remaining patients was unknown. Fusidic acid, particularly the intravenous preparation, in invaluable in treating severe staphylococcal infection but should be used with caution in patients with abnormal liver function. Patients receiving intravenous fusidic acid should be given the oral form of the drug as soon as their clinical condition permits.