Diagnosis of Endocarditis

It is natural for people to consult a GP or their family doctor when they first notice symptoms of Endocarditis. However, the diagnosis of Endocarditis is usually conducted by a cardiologist or a heart specialist and you could ask your doctor to refer you to one. To determine if you are suffering from this infection, the cardiologist will:

  • Ask you questions about your medical history and the symptoms you have been experiencing.
  • Use a stethoscope to listen to your heartbeat
  • Examine your nails, to see if there are any splinter hemorrhages
  • Check your eyes for spots or bleeding
However, a physical exam and evaluation of the symptoms are not enough to confirm or rule out the possibility of Endocarditis, as this infection is known to mimic other illnesses, especially in the early stages. Therefore, your examiner may suggest certain tests for Endocarditis, which includes:

  • Blood Culture: This test is useful in identifying if there are any harmful microorganisms present in the bloodstream. A blood test also helps rule out the possibility of other conditions.
  • Trans-esophageal Echocardiogram: The cardiologist can get a closer look at your heart valves with the help of an echocardiogram, where sound waves are used to produce images of your heart while it functions.  During this test, your examiner will look for infected tissue or vegetation within the heart.
  • Chest X-ray: The condition of your heart and your lungs can be determined through an x-ray. These images will let your doctor know if your heart has enlarged because of Endocarditis or if the infection has spread to the lungs.
  • Other Imaging Tests: Many doctors advise patients to go in for a Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan or a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), of the chest, to detect any abnormalities in the heart.
Given below are some of the other possible tests for Endocarditis:

  • Echocardiogram (noninvasive)
  • Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR)
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Serology
  • Electrocardiogram