Pathologic and clinical features of infectious endocarditis Academic Article uri icon


  • Infectious endocarditis is a systemic disease associated with high morbidity and mortality. Clinical recognition and effective management is challenging, but insights can be gleaned from relevant pathologic features. Risk factors include subaortic stenosis, possibly certain other congenital anomalies, and bacteremia. Auscultation can provide clues regarding valvular involvment, particularly when a diastolic left basilar murmur of aortic valve regurgitation is present. Aortic valve vegetations and insufficiency may also alter femoral arterial pulse characteristics. Echocardiography may facilitate diagnosis, particularly with aortic valve lesions, but may not be able to distinguish between small mitral valve vegetations and early chronic degenerative valve disease. Vegetative lesions develop along edges of valve closure on the ventricular aspect of the aortic valve and the atrial surface of atrioventricular valves. They may extend across valve leaflet, from valves to adjacent left atrial endocardium, interventricular or interatrial septum, or chordae tendineae. Vegetations can be friable and frequently embolize to spleen, kidney, and left ventricle - often before clinical recognition of the disease. Valvular insufficiency develops as a consequence of valvular vegetations, necrosis, perforation, or rupture of the chordae tendineae. Histopathologic appearance varies with respect to duration of disease and antimicrobial therapy. These factors influence the amount of necrotic material, blood clot, fibrin, and inflammatory cells which make up the vegetations. Bacteria are not always identified in valvular lesions, especially following antibacterial therapy, but may be detected in other organs. Common sequellae include congestive heart failure, sepsis, arrhythmias, and systemic organ infarction.

author list (cited authors)

  • Miller, M. W., Fox, P. R., & Saunders, A. B.

citation count

  • 22

publication date

  • November 2004