Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii: Colonization, Infection and Current Treatment Options

Carmi Bartal, Kenneth V.I. Rolston, Lior Nesher

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii (CRAB) causes colonization and infection predominantly in hospitalized patients. Distinction between the two is a challenge. When CRAB is isolated from a non-sterile site (soft tissue, respiratory samples, etc.), it probably represents colonization unless clear signs of infection (fever, elevated white blood count, elevated inflammatory markers and abnormal imaging) are present. Treatment is warranted only for true infections. In normally sterile sites (blood, cerebrospinal fluid) the presence of indwelling medical devices (catheters, stents) should be considered when evaluating positive cultures. In the absence of such devices, the isolate represents an infection and should be treated. If an indwelling device is present and there are no signs of active infection, the device should be replaced if possible, and no treatment is required. If there are signs of an active infection the device should be removed or replaced, and treatment should be administered. Current treatments options and clinical data are limited. No agent or combination regimen has been shown to be superior to any other in randomized clinical trials. Ampicillin-sulbactam appears to have the best evidence for initial use. This is probably due to its ability to saturate penicillin-binding proteins 1 and 3 when given in high dose. Tigecycline when used should be given in high dose as well. Polymyxins are a treatment option but are difficult to dose correctly and have significant side effects. Newer treatment options such as eravacycline and cefiderocol have potential; however, currently there are not enough data to support their use as single agents. Combination therapy appears to be the best treatment option and should always include high-dose ampicillin-sulbactam combined with another active agent such as high-dose tigecycline, polymyxins, etc. These infections require a high complexity of skill, and an infectious disease specialist should be involved in the management of these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-694
Number of pages12
JournalInfectious Diseases and Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • Acinetobacter infections
  • Carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae
  • Drug resistance
  • Multiple

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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