Effect of early cerebral magnetic resonance imaging on clinical decisions in infective endocarditis: a prospective study

Ann Intern Med. 2010 Apr 20;152(8):497-504, W175. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-152-8-201004200-00006.


Background: Neurologic complications of endocarditis can influence diagnosis, therapeutic plans, and prognosis.

Objective: To describe how early cerebral magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) affects the diagnosis and management of endocarditis in hospitalized adults.

Design: Single-center prospective study between June 2005 and October 2008. (ClinicalTrials.gov registration number: NCT00144885)

Setting: Tertiary care university hospital in France.

Patients: 130 patients with endocarditis.

Intervention: Cerebral MRI with angiography performed up to 7 days after admission and before any surgical intervention.

Measurements: 2 experts jointly established the endocarditis diagnostic classification (according to Duke-modified criteria) and therapeutic plans just before and after MRI and then compared them.

Results: Endocarditis was initially classified as definite in 77 patients and possible in 50 and was excluded in 3. Sixteen patients (12%) had acute neurologic symptoms. Cerebral lesions were detected by MRI in 106 patients (82% [95% CI, 75% to 89%]), including ischemic lesions in 68, microhemorrhages in 74, and silent aneurysms in 10. Solely on the basis of MRI results and excluding microhemorrhages, diagnostic classification of 17 of 53 (32%) cases of nondefinite endocarditis was upgraded to either definite (14 patients) or possible (3 patients). Endocarditis therapeutic plans were modified for 24 (18%) of the 130 patients, including surgical plan modifications for 18 (14%). Overall, early MRI led to modifications of diagnosis or therapeutic plan in 36 patients (28% [CI, 20% to 36%]).

Limitation: Investigators did not assess whether the MRI-related changes in diagnosis and therapeutic plans improved patient outcomes or led to unnecessary procedures and increased costs.

Conclusion: Cerebral lesions were identified by MRI in many patients with endocarditis but no neurologic symptoms. The MRI findings affected both diagnostic classifications and clinical management plans.

Primary funding source: French Ministry of Health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Angiography
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / etiology
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / pathology*
  • Endocarditis / complications
  • Endocarditis / diagnosis*
  • Endocarditis / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00144885