The limitations of echocardiography in the overall diagnosis of the morphological lesions associated with infective endocarditis: Comparison of echocardiographic and surgical findings

Guglielma Rita Ciliberto, Antonella Moreo, Elisabetta Lobiati, Antonia Alberti, Daria Massa, Veliano Gordini, Alessandro Pellegrini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Echocardiography is commonly accepted as the method of choice for the non-invasive diagnosis of vegetations and other lesions associated with infective endocarditis. To assess the accuracy of echocardiography in the overall diagnosis of the morphological cardiac lesions we retrospectively analyzed and compared the preoperative echocardiographic data with the surgical findings of 120 consecutive cases operated for infective endocarditis. Transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) was used in 60 cases (51 with native and 9 with prosthetic valves), both TTE and transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) in 50 (26 with native and 24 with prosthetic valves) and only TEE in 10 patients who underwent emergency surgery. The echocardiographic diagnosis was correct in all the cases, but incomplete in 26 (16 with native and 10 with prosthetic valves). Most of the incomplete diagnoses occurred regarding vegetations, perforations of the valvular leaflets and perivalvular abscesses. There were no differences between aortic or mitral valves (14/66 vs 11/60; p = ns), native or prosthetic (16/79 vs 10/37; p = ns), TTE or TEE (13/60 vs 13/60; p = ns); however, TEE was performed in more complex cases and in severely ill patients. In six of the incomplete diagnoses, echocardiography preceded surgery by one week or more, end in six the mistakes were not confirmed by the reviewer. In conclusion, our study suggests that an echocardiographic diagnosis of endocarditis may be correct but sometimes incomplete. In patients without prosthetic valves who have a technically-adequate transthoracic echocardiogram, transesophageal echocardiography is not indispensable but should be chosen from time to time. However, the patients with endocarditis and no contraindication to the transesophageal procedure should undergo both transesophageal and transthoracic echocardiography before surgery in order to obtain as much end the most definite information possible. An echocardiographic study should be repeated just before any surgical procedures in patients with active endocarditis. Finally, it needs to be emphasized that the training and clinical judgement of the operator performing the study are important elements determining the results of echocardiographic study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1431-1437
Number of pages7
JournalGiornale Italiano di Cardiologia
Volume29
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999

Keywords

  • Echocardiography
  • Endocarditis
  • Valvular surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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