Endocarditis is an infection of the inner membrane that separates the heart’s chambers and valves. Endocarditis does not occur very often, but when it does, can cause serious heart damage. Endocarditis occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream and attach inside the heart, where they multiply and cause infection.
Some of the most common ways bacteria can enter the body include dental procedures (including professional teeth cleaning); tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy; certain types of surgery on the respiratory passageways, the gastrointestinal tract or the urinary tract; and gallbladder or prostate surgery. People with congenital heart disease may be at increased risk of developing an infection inside the heart.
Endocarditis can be detected by an echocardiogram (a procedure that evaluates the structure and function of the heart by using sound waves recorded on an electronic sensor that produce a moving picture of the heart and heart valves), a complete blood count (a measurement of size, number and maturity of different blood cells in a specific volume of blood, also known as a CBC) or a blood culture (a test that assesses for and determines the specific type of bacteria in the bloodstream, if any).Previous Page Last Review Date: August 14, 2019