Effectiveness of adjunctive rifampicin for treatment of Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

J Antimicrob Chemother. 2023 Oct 3;78(10):2419-2427. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkad214.


Objectives: To assess whether the addition of rifampicin to conventional treatment of Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (SAB) reduces bacteriological or clinical failure or death.

Data sources: PubMed, Embase and Cochrane CENTRAL databases were searched from inception to 31 December 2022. Reference lists and PubMed citations of eligible studies were checked.

Review methods: Two study authors independently identified randomized controlled trials (RCTs) involving adult participants with SAB, in which an intervention group received adjunctive rifampicin and the control group received usual care with or without a placebo. Dichotomous data (bacteriological and clinical failure and deaths) were analysed and pooled across studies using risk ratio (RR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) using a Mantel-Haenszel random-effect model. The key variable of interest being whether rifampicin was used.

Results: Six RCTs including 894 participants-of which 758 (85%) were from one trial-met the inclusion criteria. The addition of rifampicin to conventional treatment of SAB significantly reduced bacteriological failure by 59% (RR 0.41, 95% CI 0.21-0.81, I2 = 0%, number need to treat 27). However, it did not reduce clinical failure (RR 0.70, 95% CI 0.47-1.03, I2 = 0%) or deaths (RR 0.96, 95% CI 0.70-1.32, I2 = 0%). Further, it did not reduce the duration of bacteraemia, or the length of hospital stay. Adjunctive rifampicin reduced SAB recurrences (1% versus 4%, P = 0.01). Emergence of rifampicin resistance during treatment was uncommon (<1%).

Conclusion: Although adjunctive rifampicin reduced the risk of bacteriological failure and recurrences, we found no mortality benefit to support its use in SAB.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacteremia* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Rifampin / pharmacology
  • Rifampin / therapeutic use
  • Staphylococcal Infections* / drug therapy
  • Staphylococcus aureus


  • Rifampin