Intravenous drug users have a high risk of infective endocarditis and reduced survival. Cardiac surgery may be recommended for these patients, but redo surgery is controversial. This study describes the characteristics and outcomes of intravenous drug users accepted for surgery during a 12-year period.
This retrospective study included 29 injecting drug users treated with valve surgery for endocarditis between January 2001 and December 2013 at a tertiary academic centre. Survival was assessed by Kaplan-Meier analysis.
The median patient age was 36 (24-63) years and 27 patients (93%) were male. Staphylococcus aureus (52%) and Enterococcus faecalis (17%) were the most common microorganisms. Common illicit drugs were opioids (69%), amphetamines (52%) and benzodiazepines (24%). Mixed abuse was reported in 66% of patients. Seven patients (24%) had prior intracardial implants or native valve pathology. Twenty-five patients (86%) were positive for hepatitis C virus antibody, but none carried the human immunodeficiency virus. Twelve (41%) were homeless and 15 (52%) had poor dental hygiene. Three patients (10%) received medication-assisted rehabilitation before surgery. The main indications for surgery were regurgitation and secondary heart failure (86%), embolization (41%) and uncontrolled infection (24%). Aortic valve replacement was performed in 24 patients (83%), either as part of univalvular or multiple valve surgery. Seven patients (24%) had multivalvular endocarditis. All but 3 patients received biological valve prostheses. The 30-day mortality was 7% after first time surgery. During follow-up, 15 patients (52%) presented with reinfection: 10 (35%) were offered a second and 2 (7%) a third operation. Thirty-day mortality was 10% after redo surgery. Thirteen patients (45%) died within a median of 22 (0-84) months. Continued intravenous drug use was reported in 70 and 44% of patients after the first and second operation, respectively.
Cardiac surgery for infective endocarditis has acceptable early postoperative results among intravenous drug users. The 2- and 5-year survival were 79 and 59%, respectively. The number of reinfections was high within 2 years, as continued drug use seems to be a major challenge for this group.
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