Other names: Vancocin

Vancomycin is a drug, which is used to treat severe infections caused by gram-positive bacteria. Vancomycin may be used to treat conditions, including septicaemia, pneumonia, endocarditis and meningitis. It is important to regulate the levels of vancomycin in the blood, as excessive doses may cause serious side-effects.

Why is the test used?

The test is used to enable doctors to keep the amount of vancomycin in the blood at a minimum level; blood tests will be carried out at different times of the day to allow doctors to test the concentration of the drug at peak times. The results of the test are used to determine a suitable dosage.

The test is usually carried out periodically to monitor the patient’s progress and check that levels are appropriate; if levels are too high, this may cause symptoms associated with toxicity and if levels are too low, the drug may not work effectively.

How is the test done?

The test is done by collecting and analysing the patient’s blood; a sample is taken from a vein in the arm, using a needle. The needle is inserted into the vein and the blood is collected in a syringe before being bottled, labelled and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

What do the test results mean?

If the results of the test conducted during the trough period are above the minimum concentration, this indicates that the dosage should be high enough to work effectively. If the peak result is below the maximum concentration, this should indicate that patient should not suffer side-effects; however, the doctor will keep an eye on their condition and the tests may repeated, especially if the patient starts to develop symptoms of toxicity.

Specific Blood Tests

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