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Pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic analysis of vancomycin in ICU patients



To identify the variables affecting vancomycin pharmacokinetics in medical ICU patients and to evaluate the potential efficacy of dosage schedules by PK/PD analysis.


A retrospective pharmacokinetic analysis of serum levels obtained in routine vancomycin monitoring was performed.


A 12-bed general ICU of a university teaching hospital.


Forty-six vancomycin-treated ICU patients fitting the following criteria: over 18 years old; more than three concentration data per patient; absence of renal replacement support, cardiac surgery and neoplastic disorders.


Clinical information was collected from the patients' medical records. Details of vancomycin therapy, dosage and blood sampling times were obtained from pharmacokinetic reports. Population analysis were made by the standard two-stage approach.

Measurements and main results

Vancomycin clearance and distribution volume were estimated individually assuming a one-compartment pharmacokinetic model. PK/PD analysis was performed by Monte Carlo simulation. In the ICU patients, higher Vd (nearly twice the quoted value of 0.72 l/kg) and different vancomycin clearance–creatinine clearance relationship were found. Renal function, the APACHE score, age and serum albumin accounted for more than 65% of drug clearance variability. Vancomycin standard dosages led to a 33% risk of not achieving the recommended AUC24h/MIC breakpoint for Staphylococcus aureus.


The population kinetics and PK/PD analyses based on Monte Carlo simulation procedures offer an excellent tool for selecting the therapeutic option with the highest probability of clinical success in ICU patients.

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The authors thank the staff of the Intensive Care Medicine Department of the University Hospital of Salamanca for use of their facilities and collaboration.

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Correspondence to Maria del Mar Fernández de Gatta Garcia.

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del Mar Fernández de Gatta Garcia, M., Revilla, N., Calvo, M.V. et al. Pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic analysis of vancomycin in ICU patients. Intensive Care Med 33, 279–285 (2007).

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  • Vancomycin
  • ICU patients
  • Population kinetics
  • Dosage optimisation
  • PK/PD analysis
  • Monte Carlo simulation