Antimicrobial prophylaxis for bacterial endocarditis


Antimicrobial prophylaxis for bacterial endocarditis has become standard in most developed countries, despite the fact that no prospective randomized trial has proven that such therapy is beneficial. Furthermore, given the extremely low incidence of endocarditis following procedures, such as dental surgery, and the medicolegal climate in the United States and Europe, it is unlikely that such a study will ever be undertaken. It has been estimated that a randomized trial to assess the effectiveness of prophylaxis after dental procedures would require at least 6000 patients in each study group [1].

The theoretical basis for antimicrobial prophylaxis for endocarditis and the most recent guideline that was published by the American Heart Association (AHA) in 2007 on the prevention of infective endocarditis will be reviewed here [2]. As will be seen, this guideline made important revisions to previous guidelines. (See 'AHA guideline' below.)


The pathogenesis of infective endocarditis (IE) is presumed to involve the following sequence of events [3]:

Formation of a small noninfected thrombus on an abnormal endothelial surface

Secondary infection of this nidus with bacteria that are transiently circulating in the bloodstream


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Literature review current through: Jul 2014. | This topic last updated: Jul 11, 2014.
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