Current Infectious Disease Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 307–316 | Cite as

Infective endocarditis in intravenous drug abusers

  • José M. Miró
  • Asuncion Moreno
  • Carlos A. Mestres


Infective endocarditis (IE) is one of the most severe complications in intravenous drug abusers (IVDA). IE usually involves the tricuspid valve, Staphylococcus aureus is the most common etiologic agent, and it has a relatively good prognosis. Currently, between 40% and 90% of IVDA with IE are HIV infected, and the HIV epidemic has caused a decrease in the incidence of this disease, probably due to changes in drug administration habits undertaken by addicts in order to avoid HIV transmission. This review focuses on progress made over the past few years in some aspects of IE in IVDA. The pathogenesis of tricuspid endocarditis is still unknown more than 60 years after the first series. The most important advance in antibiotic therapy is that noncomplicated S. aureus right-sided endocarditis can be successfully treated with an intravenous 2-week course of nafcillin or cloxacillin plus an aminoglycoside, although probably the aminoglycoside administration could be stopped after the first 3 to 5 days. Surgery in HIV-infected IVDA with IE does not worsen the prognosis. Considering the possibility of reinfection in IVDA, prosthetic material is usually avoided. Tricuspid valvulectomy or valve repair should be considered the technique of choice in IVDA with right-sided IE. Replacement of the tricuspid valve by a cryopreserved mitral homograft is the latest introduction into clinical practice. It provides atrioventricular competence, thereby avoiding late right heart failure. Reinfections can be treated medically with a negligible reoperation rate. Overall mortality for HIV-infected or non-HIV-infected IVDA with IE is similar. However, among HIV-infected IVDA, mortality is significantly higher in those who are most severely immunosuppressed, with CD4+ cell counts below 200/μL or with AIDS criteria.


Endocarditis Infective Endocarditis Tricuspid Valve Teicoplanin Injection Drug User 
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Copyright information

© Current Science Inc. 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • José M. Miró
    • 1
  • Asuncion Moreno
  • Carlos A. Mestres
  1. 1.Infectious Diseases Service, Hospital Clinic-IDIBAPSUniversity of BarcelonaVillarroel, 170Spain

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