Antimicrobial susceptibility testing: Special needs for fastidious organisms and difficult-to-detect resistance mechanisms

James H. Jorgensen, Mary Jane Ferraro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Clinical microbiology laboratories are faced with the challenge of accurately detecting emerging antibiotic resistance among a number of bacterial pathogens. In recent years, vancomycin resistance among enterococci has become prevalent, as has penicillin resistance and multidrug resistance in pneumococci. More recently, strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus with reduced susceptibility to vancomycin have been encountered. In addition, molecular techniques have demonstrated that there are still problems detecting methicillin resistance in staphylococci, especially in coagulase-negative species. Among members of the family Enterobacteriaceae, mutated β-lactamase enzymes may confer difficult-to-detect resistance to later-generation penicillins and cephalosporins. Anaerobic bacteria are no longer entirely predictable in their susceptibility to agents that might be selected for empiric therapy. Therefore, clinical microbiology laboratories may not be able to rely on a single susceptibility testing method or system to detect all those emerging resistant or fastidious organisms. For reliable detection, laboratories may need to employ conventional, quantitative susceptibility testing methods or use specially developed, single concentration agar screening tests for some resistant species. Certain of these screening tests are highly specific, while others may require additional confirmatory testing for definitive results. Therefore, laboratories must retain the versatility to apply several different approaches to detect resistance in both common and infrequently encountered bacterial pathogens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-808
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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