Linezolid versus vancomycin for MRSA skin and soft tissue infections (systematic review and meta-analysis)


  • T. J. Dodds BSc(Adv), MBBS; C. I. Hawke MBBS, FFPH.

Dr Tristan John Dodds, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia. Email:


Background:  This review aims to compare the effectiveness of linezolid to vancomycin for the treatment of Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) in inpatients.

Methods:  MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and reference lists were searched in March 2007. We included randomized controlled trials that looked at inpatients treated with linezolid versus vancomycin for the treatment of hospital-acquired MRSA SSTIs. Outcome measures were clinical cure (resolution of symptoms and signs) and microbiological cure (eradication of MRSA on wound culture). The validity of the included trials was assessed. The results were combined in meta-analyses, the robustness of which was tested in sensitivity analyses.

Results:  Four trials were included in this review: three for clinical outcomes (174 participants) and three for microbiological outcomes (439 participants). For clinical outcomes there were non-significant trends in favour of linezolid (RR 0.34; 95% CI 0.04, 2.89; P = 0.32). For microbiological outcomes there was weak evidence of linezolid outperforming vancomycin (RR 0.55; 95% CI 0.30, 1.01; P = 0.05). Sensitivity analyses did not change the conclusions taken from the main analysis.

Conclusion:  With the current available data no difference could be detected between the two treatments, but a trend towards higher effectiveness of linezolid was observed. More data will be required to determine if linezolid is superior to vancomycin for the treatment of MRSA SSTIs. Further systematic reviews are needed to look at other outcomes (length of hospital stay, safety and tolerability, cost-effectiveness) and at MRSA infections at other sites.