Endocarditis is an inflammation of the inner layer of the heart, the endocardium. It usually involves the heart valves (native or prosthetic valves). Other structures which may be involved include the interventricular septum, the chordae tendinae, the mural endocardium, or even on intracardiac devices.
Endocarditis is characterized by a prototypic lesion, the ''vegetation'', which is a mass of platelets, fibrin, microcolonies of microorganisms, and scant inﬂammatory cells. In the subacute form of infective endocarditis, the vegetation may also include a center of granulomatous tissue, which may fibrose or calcify.
There are multiple ways to classify endocarditis. The simplest classification is based on etiology: either ''infective'' or ''non-infective'', depending on whether a microorganism is the source of the inflammation.
Regardless, diagnosis of endocarditis is based on the clinical features, investigations such as echocardiogram, as well as any blood cultures demonstrating the presence of endocarditis-causing microorganisms.
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Last Updated: Feb 1, 2011