Infective endocarditis is associated with significant morbidity and mortality, despite advances in diagnosis and treatment strategies. Injecting drug users are particularly at risk of endovascular infections, especially with multi-resistant and virulent microorganisms. Typically, patients with endocarditis present with constitutional symptoms, such as high fever and malaise combined with cardiorespiratory symptoms of valvular failure or emboli, such as septic pulmonary embolism.
A 33-year-old female with a history of peptic ulcer disease presented to the emergency department with 3 days of increasing unilateral calf pain and swelling. There was no history of trauma or immobilization, no fever or clinical signs of sepsis or cardiopulmonary symptoms. A history of recent i.v. amphetamine injection in the forearm was elicited and empiric treatment for endovascular infection was commenced. Workup revealed methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus mitral papillary endocarditis with gastrocnemius pyomyositis, multi-joint septic arthritis, and brain abscesses. After a 60-day inpatient stay, including intensive care admission for septic shock, the patient made a good recovery.
Why Should an Emergency Physician Be Aware of This?
The incidence of injecting drug use is increasing, and these patients are at risk of severe invasive infections with multi-resistant organisms. The emergency physician is most often responsible for the initial workup and treatment of patients with suspected infective endocarditis, with timely collection of blood cultures and appropriate antibiotics being essential interventions. This case highlights that even without fever, murmurs, or constitutional symptoms, severe multisystem infections from endocarditis can occur.
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Published online: April 24, 2019
Accepted: March 4, 2019
Received in revised form: February 12, 2019
Received: January 3, 2019
Crown Copyright © 2019 Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.