9/14 Wednesday AM with Shawn: Endocarditis

An elderly woman with a pmh of moderate AS and a R TKA 5 years prior who initially presented to her PCP with R knee pain.  She was initially treated with a steroid injection as well as a course of PO prednisone.   Several weeks later she continued to have knee pain and was seen by ortho – arthrocentesis at that time revealed a WBC of 25K and culture grew out Step Milleri – she was started on antibiotics.  Plans were made for a 2 step knee replacement.  During pre-op workup, she was noted to be in atrial fibrillation. She was subsequently sent home with an event monitor and was called back to the ED after it detected 3rd degree heart block.  Subsequent ECHO demonstrated perivalvular abscess involving the aortic valve.  Unfortunately, she was deemed too high risk for surgery, and was sent home on hospice with plans for comfort care.

Learning Points

-Pay attention to surgical history – the presence of hardware in this patient’s knee increased her risk of septic arthritis

-TTE sensitivity for vegetation is 75% compared with sensitivity of TEE which is > 90%

-Heart block should raise suspicions for perivalvular abscess, specifically involving the aortic valve

Duke’s criteria for endocarditis:

Criteria for Diagnosis: 2 Major; 1 Major and 3 Minor; 0 Major and 5 Minor


1)       + Blood Cx for typical infective endocarditis organisms (S. Viridans or Bovis; HACEK, S. Aureus) from 2 separate blood cultures or 2 positive cultures from samples drawn > 12 hrs apart

2)       Echo with oscillating intracardiac mass or valve or supporting structures in the path of regurgitant jets, or on implanted material in the absence of an alternative anatomic explanation, or abscess, or new partial dehiscence of prosthetic valve or new valvular regurgitation


1)       Predisposing heart condition or IV drug use

2)       Temp > 38

3)       Vascular phenomena: arterial emboli, pulmonary infarcts, mycotic aneurysms, intracranial bleed, conjunctival hemorrhages, Janeway lesions

4)       Immunologic phenomena: glomerulonephritis, Osler nodes, Roth spots; RF

5)       Microbiological evidence: positive blood Cx but does not meet a major criterion as noted above or serological evidence of active infection with organism consistent with endocarditis (excluding coag neg staph, and other common contaminants)

6)       Echo findings: consistent with endocarditis but do not meet a major criterion as noted above


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