Background: Drug use-associated infective endocarditis (DUA-IE) is increasing as a result of the opioid epidemic. Infective endocarditis may require valve surgery, but surgical treatment of DUA-IE has invoked controversy, and the extent of its use is unknown.
Objective: To examine hospitalization trends for DUA-IE, the proportion of hospitalizations with surgery, patient characteristics, length of stay, and charges.
Design: 10-year analysis of a statewide hospital discharge database.
Setting: North Carolina hospitals, 2007 to 2017.
Patients: All patients aged 18 years or older hospitalized for IE.
Measurements: Annual trends in all IE admissions and in IE hospitalizations with valve surgery, stratified by patients' drug use status. Characteristics of DUA-IE surgical hospitalizations, including patient demographic characteristics, length of stay, disposition, and charges.
Results: Of 22 825 IE hospitalizations, 2602 (11%) were for DUA-IE. Valve surgery was performed in 1655 IE hospitalizations (7%), including 285 (17%) for DUA-IE. Annual DUA-IE hospitalizations increased from 0.92 to 10.95 and DUA-IE hospitalizations with surgery from 0.10 to 1.38 per 100 000 persons. In the final year, 42% of IE valve surgeries were performed in patients with DUA-IE. Compared with other surgical patients with IE, those with DUA-IE were younger (median age, 33 vs. 56 years), were more commonly female (47% vs. 33%) and white (89% vs. 63%), and were primarily insured by Medicaid (38%) or uninsured (35%). Hospital stays for DUA-IE were longer (median, 27 vs. 17 days), with higher median charges ($250 994 vs. $198 764). Charges for 282 DUA-IE hospitalizations exceeded $78 million.
Limitation: Reliance on administrative data and billing codes.
Conclusion: DUA-IE hospitalizations and valve surgeries increased more than 12-fold, and nearly half of all IE valve surgeries were performed in patients with DUA-IE. The swell of patients with DUA-IE is reshaping the scope, type, and financing of health care resources needed to effectively treat IE.
Primary funding source: National Institutes of Health.