endocarditis, prosthetic valve, transesophageal echocardiography



  1. Hubner, Cheryl RN, MS, CCRN


Infective endocarditis (IE) is a pathologic condition of native or prosthetic heart valves or endocardium, which may result in valve destruction and congestive heart failure. It occurs more frequently in men than in women, and there is an increased trend in the elderly. The following conditions predispose patients to IE: congenital and rheumatic heart disease, calcification or stenosis of a valve, prosthetic valve surgery, a previous episode of endocarditis, poor dentition, parenteral drug abuse, and placement of intravascular lines or devices. Effective treatment frequently involves a combination of intense antibiotic therapy and surgical repair. Risk of death from IE is related to age over 60, diagnosis of staphylococcal infection, involvement of an aortic or prosthetic valve, and the presence of any of the following sequelae of endocarditis: congestive heart failure, embolic phenomenon, and neurologic deficit. Clinicians should suspect endocarditis in patients presenting with fever of unknown origin and who are at risk for endocarditis. Timely evaluation with transthoracic or transesophageal echocardiography may identify patients in the early stages of endocarditis and direct the patient to definitive therapy. Early treatment of native and prosthetic valve endocarditis may decrease its overall morbidity and mortality. This case study illustrates some of the challenges in effectively managing prosthetic valve endocarditis.