Role of Cerebral Imaging on Diagnosis and Management in Patients With Suspected Infective Endocarditis

Clin Infect Dis. 2023 Aug 14;77(3):371-379. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciad192.


Background: Cerebral embolic events (CEEs) are common complications of infective endocarditis (IE), and their presence can modify diagnosis and therapeutic plans. The aim of the present study was to assess the role of cerebral imaging (Cer-Im) on diagnosis and management of patients with suspected IE.

Methods: This study was conducted at the Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland, from January 2014 to June 2022. CEEs and IE were defined according to modified Duke criteria of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) guidelines.

Results: Among 573 patients with IE suspicion and Cer-Im, 239 (42%) patients had neurological symptoms. At least 1 CEE was found in 254 (44%) episodes. Based on Cer-Im findings, episodes were reclassified from rejected to possible or from possible to definite IE in 3 (1%) and 25 (4%) patients, respectively (0% and 2% in asymptomatic patients, respectively). Among the 330 patients with possible or definite IE, at least 1 CEE was found in 187 (57%) episodes. A new surgical indication (in association with left-side vegetation >10 mm) was established in 74/330 (22%) IE patients and 30/155 (19%) asymptomatic IE patients, respectively.

Conclusions: Cer-Im in asymptomatic patients with IE suspicion showed limited potential for improving the diagnosis of IE. In contrast, performing Cer-Im in asymptomatic patients with IE may be useful for decision making, because Cer-Im findings led to the establishment of new operative indication for valvular surgery in one fifth of patients according to ESC guidelines.

Keywords: MRI; embolization; infective endocarditis; ischemic lesions; valve surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Endocarditis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Endocarditis, Bacterial* / diagnostic imaging
  • Endocarditis, Bacterial* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Switzerland