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Bacterial endocarditis in children: Trends in its diagnosis, course, and prognosis

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In a population-based study of 41 children with bacterial endocarditis (BE), diagnosed in the period 1970 through 1989 in eastern Denmark, we analyzed trends in the diagnosis of BE and in mortality, and searched for possible prognostic factors.

During this period the delay in diagnosis from first symptom to treatment did not change, but the delay from admission to treatment was significantly prolonged from 0 to 3 days, despite the introduction of echocardiography (ECHO). There was a significant improvement in the prognosis, the mortality rate having decreased from 40 to 0% [95% confidence limits: 12–74 vs. 0–26 (0.01<p<0.02)]. The improved prognosis was not explained by changes in the etiology or pattern of antibiotic resistance and may reflect a milder course of BE in children.

Children with “mild anomalies”—such as bicuspid aortic valve (n=5), coarctation of the aorta (n=2), and prolapse of the mitral valve (n=2)—had a significantly poorer prognosis than children with other forms of congenital heart disease (CHD) (p=0.004), a reminder of the importance of suspecting BE in all children with unexplained long-lasting or intermittent fever, because some may have unrecognized “mild” CHD.

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Correspondence to Dr. Joes Ramsøe Jacobsen.

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Hansen, D., Schmiegelow, K. & Jacobsen, J.R. Bacterial endocarditis in children: Trends in its diagnosis, course, and prognosis. Pediatr Cardiol 13, 198–203 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00838776

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Key Words

  • Bacterial endocarditis
  • Children
  • Diagnosis
  • Echocardiography
  • Course
  • Prognosis
  • Congenital heart disease