Select methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) strains may produce β-lactamases with affinity for first-generation cephalosporins (1GCs). In the setting of a high inoculum, these β-lactamases may promote the cleavage of 1GCs, a phenomenon known as the cefazolin inoculum effect (CzIE). We evaluated the prevalence and impact of CzIE on clinical outcomes among MSSA acute hematogenous osteomyelitis (AHO) cases. MSSA AHO isolates obtained from two children’s hospitals between January 2011 and December 2018 were procured through ongoing surveillance studies. Isolates were tested for CzIE via a broth macrodilution assay using an inoculum of 107 CFU/ml; CzIE was defined as a cefazolin MIC of ≥16 μg/ml. Isolates were characterized by accessory gene regulator group (agr). The progression from acute to chronic osteomyelitis was considered an important outcome. A total of 250 cases with viable isolates were included. Notably, 14.4% of isolates exhibited CzIE with no observed temporal trend; and 4% and 76% of patients received a 1GC as an empirical and definitive therapy, respectively. CzIE isolates were more often resistant to clindamycin, belonged to agrIII, and associated with the development of chronic osteomyelitis. In multivariable analyses, agrIII, multiple surgical debridements, delayed source control, and CzIE were independently associated with progression to chronic osteomyelitis. A higher rate of chronic osteomyelitis was observed with CzIE isolates regardless of definitive antibiotic choice. CzIE is exhibited by 14.4% of MSSA AHO isolates in children. CzIE is independently associated with progression to chronic osteomyelitis in cases of AHO irrespective of final antibiotic choice. These data suggest that negative outcomes reported with CzIE may more accurately reflect strain-dependent virulence factors rather than true antibiotic failure.
- Cefazolin inoculum effect