Background: The risk of endocarditis among patients with Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia is not uniform, and a number of different scores have been developed to identify patients whose risk is less than 5%. The optimal echocardiography strategy for these patients is uncertain.
Methods: We used decision analysis and Monte Carlo simulation using input parameters taken from the existing literature. The model examined patients with S aureus bacteremia whose risk of endocarditis is less than 5%, generally those with nosocomial or healthcare-acquired bacteremia, no intracardiac prosthetic devices, and a brief duration of bacteremia. We examined 6 echocardiography strategies, including the use of transesophageal echocardiography, transthoracic echocardiography, both modalities, and neither. The outcome of the model was 90-day survival.
Results: The optimal echocardiography strategy varied with the risk of endocarditis and the procedural mortality associated with transesophageal echocardiography. No echocardiography strategy offered an absolute benefit in 90-day survival of more than 0.5% compared with the strategy of not performing echocardiography and treating with short-course therapy. Strategies using transesophageal echocardiography were never preferred if the mortality of this procedure was greater than 0.5%.
Conclusions: In patients identified to be at low risk of endocarditis, the choice of echocardiography strategy appears to exert a very small influence on 90-day survival. This finding may render test-treatment trials unfeasible and should prompt clinicians to focus on other, more important, management considerations in these patients.