Preventing Bacterial Endocarditis

When a child has a heart problem, he is more prone to a bacterial infection in the bloodstream. Bacteria may enter the circulation through a cut, an incision (operation) or the gums (dental work). The bacteria settle on the heart lining, valve or blood vessel. When the bacteria affect these structures, the infection is called bacterial endocarditis (BE).

Antibiotics are prescribed to prevent bacterial endocarditis. This prevention of infection is called BE prophylaxis. Your pediatric cardiologist will tell you whether your child needs this protection before and after dental or surgical procedures. The American Heart Association has developed specific instructions for the amount and type of antibiotics that need to be prescribed.

If your child needs BE prophylaxis, tell the dentist or surgeon when dental work or an operation is being planned.

Guidelines for the Prevention of Infective Endocarditis

July 2007

Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC announced that the pediatric cardiologists from Children’s Heart Institute have adopted the new American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for the use of antibiotics for the prevention of infective endocarditis (Circulation 2007; 115:&NA).

This policy serves as a guideline for care; specific recommendations for each patient are best made by their own pediatric cardiologist. View a brief summary of the guidelines (PDF).

For questions, please contact Children’s Heart Institute at 412-692-5759.

View complete AHA Statement on Prevention of Infective Endocarditis (PDF).