Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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Monroe Carell Jr.
Children's Hospital
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2200 Children's Way
Nashville, TN 37232

(615) 936-1000

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The endocardium is the thin layer of tissue that lines the chambers of the heart and covers the heart valves. Infectious endocarditis results when a germ grows on the endocardium, usually of the valves, and causes inflammation and destruction of the tissue. Clumps of the organisms, usually bacteria but sometimes a fungus, can not only impair valve function but also may break off (embolize) and travel to other parts of the body such as the kidneys or brain, causing serious damage and infection.

Those at greatest risk of infectious endocarditis, also called bacterial endocarditis, are people with damaged heart valves (congenital, or the result of rheumatic fever) or prosthetic heart valves. The infection may enter the bloodstream during procedures such as routine dental work or diagnostic procedures such as removal of a polyp from the colon.

The key to endocarditis is prevention. People with problems that put them at risk should usually take an antibiotic before a procedure and sometimes for a brief period following the procedure. Treatment of the condition involves taking one or more antibiotic medications for an extended period of time in hopes of destroying all of the germs and preventing further damage to heart valves. Sometimes, it may be necessary to replace the infected valve.

Last Edited: May 28, 2015
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