Background: Infective endocarditis is a complex disease process. Optimal outcome often requires both medical and surgical expertise. The need for and timing of surgical intervention is controversial and continues to evolve in parallel to advancements in diagnosis and treatment. Our experience with the treatment of infective endocarditis is reviewed herein.
Methods: A retrospective review was compiled of 140 consecutive patients who fulfilled the modified von Reyn criteria for the diagnosis of endocarditis between January 1982 and April 1992.
Results: Patient characteristics, symptoms, and risk factors are described. Follow-up averaged 3.5 +/- 0.8 years and totaled 491 patient-years. New York Heart Association functional class at presentation had a significant influence on survival (p < 0.0001). Long-term survival was significantly greater (p = 0.036) in patients treated medically/surgically than those treated with medical therapy alone (75% versus 54% at 5 years). Medical treatment of aortic and prosthetic endocarditis was associated with higher mortality (58% and 67%, respectively) when compared with combined medical/surgical treatment (28% and 38%, respectively). Among the survivors, New York Heart Association class at follow-up was better (p < 0.0001) in the medical/surgical group (1.05 +/- 0.04) versus the medical treatment group (1.70 +/- 0.14).
Conclusions: Combined medical/surgical treatment for infective endocarditis is associated with improved survival. Patients with aortic or prosthetic endocarditis are identified as subgroups that benefit most from surgical intervention. Valvular dysfunction incited by the infective process is an important factor that should be weighed carefully in the therapeutic decision.