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Complications and outcome of infective endocarditis

Denis Spelman, MBBS, FRACP, FRCPA, MPH
Daniel J Sexton, MD
Section Editors
Stephen B Calderwood, MD
Gabriel S Aldea, MD
Scott E Kasner, MD
Deputy Editors
Elinor L Baron, MD, DTMH
Susan B Yeon, MD, JD, FACC


Infective endocarditis (IE) is associated with a broad array of complications. The likelihood of complication(s) depends on several factors including the infecting pathogen, duration of illness prior to therapy, and underlying comorbidities [1]. Complications can occur before, during, and after completion of therapy.

It can be difficult to assess the true incidence of complications since case series are frequently retrospective. In one review including 223 episodes of IE, 57 percent of patients had one complication, 26 percent had two, 8 percent had three or more, and 6 percent had six or more complications [2].

Issues related to complications and outcome of IE will be reviewed here. Other issues related to IE are discussed separately. (See related topics.)


Complications of infective endocarditis (IE) include cardiac, neurologic, renal, and musculoskeletal complications, as well as complications related to systemic infection (including embolization, metastatic infection, and mycotic aneurysm). More than one complication can occur simultaneously.

Complications can also be considered based on pathogenesis (ie, embolic [such as cerebral infarct], local spread of infection [such as heart valve destruction], metastatic infection [such as vertebral osteomyelitis], and immune-mediated damage [such as glomerulonephritis]).


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Sep 29, 2016.
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