Clinical Significance of a 16S-rDNA Analysis of Heart Valves in Patients with Infective Endocarditis: a Retrospective Study

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A substantial proportion of patients with infective endocarditis (IE) are subjected to heart valve surgery. Microbiological findings on valves are important both for diagnostics and for tailored antibiotic therapy, post-operatively. The aims of this study were to describe microbiological findings on surgically removed valves and to examine the diagnostic benefits of 16S-rDNA PCR and sequencing (16S-analysis). Adult patients who were subjected to heart valve surgery for IE between 2012 and 2021 at Skåne University Hospital, Lund, where a 16S-analysis had been performed on the valve, constituted the study population. Data were gathered from medical records, and the results from blood cultures, valve cultures, and 16S-analyses of valves were compared. A diagnostic benefit was defined as providing an agent in blood culture negative endocarditis, providing a new agent in episodes with positive blood cultures, or confirming one of the findings in episodes with a discrepancy between blood and valve cultures. 279 episodes in 272 patients were included in the final analysis. Blood cultures were positive in 259 episodes (94%), valve cultures in 60 episodes (22%), and 16S-analyses in 227 episodes (81%). Concordance between the blood cultures and the 16S-analysis was found in 214 episodes (77%). The 16S-analyses provided a diagnostic benefit in 25 (9.0%) of the episodes. In blood culture negative endocarditis, the 16S-analyses had a diagnostic benefit in 15 (75%) of the episodes. A 16S-analysis should be routinely performed on surgically removed valves in blood culture negative endocarditis. In patients with positive blood cultures, 16S-analysis may also be considered, as a diagnostic benefit was provided in some patients.

IMPORTANCE This work demonstrates that it can be of importance to perform both cultures and analysis using 16S-rDNA PCR and sequencing of valves excised from patients undergoing surgery for infective endocarditis. 16S-analysis may help both to establish a microbiological etiology in cases of blood culture negative endocarditis and to provide help in situations where there are discrepancies between valve and blood cultures. In addition, our results show a high degree of concordance between blood cultures and 16S-analyses, indicating that the latter has a high sensitivity and specificity for the etiological diagnosis of endocarditis in patients who were subjected to heart valve surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0113623
JournalMicrobiology spectrum
Issue number3
Early online date2023 May 17
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Jun 15

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Clinical Laboratory Medicine
  • Infectious Medicine
  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems


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