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Arch Intern Med. 1996 Dec 9-23;156(22):2579-84.

Treatment of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium infections.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, USA.



To define the clinical characteristics of patients infected with vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) and the outcome of the infections without the availability of effective antimicrobial therapy.


Charts of 28 patients with VRE infections were reviewed for demographics, clinical findings at the time of isolation of VRE, underlying medical problems, surgical procedures, invasive devices, treatment with antimicrobial agents, microbiological data, and patients' responses and outcomes.


The infections included 6 cases of bacteremia, 9 surgical site infections (SSIs), 4 cases of peritonitis, 2 pelvic abscesses, 7 urinary tract infections (UTIs), and 2 soft tissue infections (STIs). Four of the 6 bacteremia cases were central-line related and resolved with line removal alone; 1 was treated with a combination product of quinupristin and dalfopristin (Synercid) and 1 had persistent bacteremia in the presence of a ventriculoperitoneal shunt. Seven of 9 SSIs resolved with surgical debridement and 2 of the 9 patients received antibiotics for organisms other than VRE. Similarly, 2 patients with STIs were treated with local debridement and antibiotics directed at organisms other than VRE and 2 patients with pelvic abscesses were treated with drainage and surgical debridement with antibiotics directed at other organisms; the infections resolved completely. Patients with peritonitis were treated with removal of their Tenckhoff catheters, drainage, and irrigation and 1 patient was treated with quinupristin-dalfopristin; 3 of 4 patients were cured. Two of 7 patients with UTIs were treated with nitrofurantoin and their urine cultures showed no growth after treatment; however, most patients with UTIs experienced resolution despite a lack of specific antimicrobial therapy.


Although no antimicrobial agents are currently available for VRE infections, VRE line-related bacteremias could be treated by line removal alone. Surgical site infections, STIs, and abscesses could be managed by surgical debridement and drainage without specific antimicrobial agents against VRE and UTIs could be resolved with nitrofurantoin or removal of Foley catheters. Removal of foreign devices, debridement, and surgical drainage seemed to be important in the resolution of VRE infections.

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