Sonication of heart valves detects more bacteria in infective endocarditis

Anna Gomes*, Marleen van Oosten, Kasper L B Bijker, Kathleen E Boiten, Elisa N Salomon, Sigrid Rosema, John W A Rossen, Ehsan Natour, Yvonne L Douglas, Greetje A Kampinga, Sander van Assen, Bhanu Sinha

*Corresponding author for this work

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Optimal antimicrobial treatment of infective endocarditis requires identification and susceptibility patterns of pathogens. Sonication of explanted heart valves could increase the identification and culture of pathogens, as shown in prosthetic joint and pacemaker/ICD infections. We tested 26 explanted heart valves from 20 patients with active definite endocarditis for added diagnostic value of sonication to the standard microbiological workup in a prospective diagnostic proof of concept study. Two sonication protocols (broth enrichment vs. centrifugation) were compared in an additional 35 negative control valves for contamination rates. We selected sonication/centrifugation based on acceptable false positive rates (11.4%; 4/35). Sonication/enrichment yielded many false positive results in negative controls (28.6%; 10/35), mainly Propionibacterium acnes (next-generation sequencing excluded technical problems). Compared to direct culture only, adding sonication/centrifugation (including molecular testing) significantly increased the diagnostic yield from 6/26 to 17/26 valves (p = 0.003). Most importantly, culture positives almost doubled (from 6 to 10), providing unique quantitative information about antimicrobial susceptibility. Even if direct molecular testing was added to the standard workup, sonication/centrifugation provided additional diagnostic information in a significant number of valves (8/26; 31%; p = 0.013). We concluded that sonication/centrifugation added relevant diagnostic information in the workup of heart valves with infective endocarditis, with acceptable contamination rates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12967
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28-Aug-2018


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