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What Is Endocarditis?

Endocarditis (pronounced en-doh-car-DIE-tis) is an infection of the lining inside the heart. This lining is called the endocardium.

Bacterial infection is the most common source of endocarditis. Infection happens when bacteria enter the bloodstream, attach to the inside of the heart and multiply. This can damage or even destroy the heart valves.

A normal heart has a smooth lining that is difficult for bacteria to stick to. But people with congenital heart disease may have a rough area on the heart lining or an abnormal opening or leaky valve. Others may have built up scar tissue after heart surgery. These rough areas are where the bacteria tend to attach and multiply.

Bacterial endocarditis is a serious infection. It requires treatment as soon as possible.

Endocarditis in Children

Endocarditis is more common in children who were born with heart defects or who have damaged heart valves, artificial heart valves or devices implanted in their heart or blood vessels. But it’s uncommon even in these children.

Other children can get endocarditis, too. But it’s less common in those with healthy hearts.

Endocarditis at Seattle Children’s

Our heart team has treated many children with endocarditis. We have extensive experience with the treatment these patients may require, including medicines and heart valve repair. We also have a pediatric cardiac anesthesia team and a cardiac intensive care unit ready to care for children who undergo heart surgery.

When you come to Children's, a team of people will take care of your child. Along with your child's cardiologist, you are connected with infectious disease specialists, nurses, child life specialists, social workers and others, if their expertise is needed. We work together to meet all of your child's health needs and help your family through this experience.

Since 1907, Children's has been treating children only. Our team members are trained in their fields and also in meeting the unique needs of children. For example, the doctors who give your child anesthesia are board certified in pediatric anesthesiology. This means they have extra years of training in how to take care of kids. Our child life specialists know how to help children understand their illnesses and treatments in ways that make sense for their age. Our expertise in pediatrics truly makes a difference for our patients and families.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

Should your child see a doctor?

Find out by selecting your child’s symptom or health condition in the list below:

Spring 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Cold Water Shock Can Quickly Cause Drowning
  • E-Cigs Are Addictive and Harmful
  • Bystanders Can Intervene to Stop Bullying

Download Spring 2014 (PDF)