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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. Congenital heart disease sometimes causes rough areas on the heart lining or other changes that make it easier for bacteria to stick to the heart lining or valves. If bacteria stick, they can survive and multiply, which can cause endocarditis.

Bacterial endocarditis is always a serious infection.

Endocarditis in Children

Endocarditis is uncommon, but it’s more likely to happen in children with heart problems. This includes 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.

It is extremely rare, but possible, for children with normal hearts to get endocarditis.

Endocarditis at Seattle Children’s

Our heart team has treated many children with endocarditis. We have extensive experience with the treatment your child may require, including medicines and heart valve repair. We also have infectious disease specialists who help to choose the most appropriate therapy for the infection. We also have a pediatric cardiac anesthesia team and a specialized cardiac intensive care unit in case your child needs heart surgery or intensive care during their illness.

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.

Seattle Children’s has been treating children since 1907. 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.

Contact Us

Contact the Heart Center at 206-987-2015 for a cardiac referral, a second opinion or more information.

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:

Summer 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Understanding the Power and Influence of Role Models
  • Legal Marijuana Means Greater Poisoning Risks for Children
  • Why Choose Pediatric Emergency Care?

Download Summer 2014 (PDF)