The clinical significance of vancomycin minimum inhibitory concentration in Staphylococcus aureus infections: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Clin Infect Dis. 2012 Mar;54(6):755-71. doi: 10.1093/cid/cir935. Epub 2012 Feb 2.


Background: Emerging data suggest that vancomycin may be less effective against serious methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections with minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values at the higher end of the susceptibility range. The purpose of this review is to examine the strength of these associations.

Methods: All relevant studies pertaining to treatment outcomes or mortality associated with vancomycin MIC were retrieved from the medical literature from January 1996 through August 2011 and analyzed according to Cochrane guidelines.

Results: Of the 270 studies identified, 48 studies were reviewed, with 22 studies included in the final meta-analysis. Vancomycin MIC was significantly associated with mortality for MRSA infection irrespective of the source of infection or MIC methodology (odds ratio [OR], 1.64; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.14-2.37; P < .01). This mortality association was predominantly driven by bloodstream infections (BSIs; OR, 1.58; 95% CI, 1.06-2.37; P = .03) and isolates with a vancomycin MIC of 2 μg/mL by Etest (OR, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.34-2.21; P < .01). Vancomycin MIC was significantly associated with treatment failure irrespective of source of infection or MIC methodology (OR, 2.69; 95% CI, 1.60-4.51; P < .01).

Conclusion: High vancomycin MIC was associated with a higher mortality rate in MRSA BSI. Thus, institutions should consider conducting Etest MICs on all MRSA BSI isolates. Although these data highlight concerns about vancomycin, currently, there are no data to support better survival rates with alternative antibiotics. Data are sorely needed to determine whether other agents can remedy these outcomes observed with vancomycin for MRSA infections with elevated vancomycin MIC values.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Sepsis / mortality
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / mortality*
  • Treatment Failure
  • Vancomycin / therapeutic use*
  • Vancomycin Resistance


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Vancomycin