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Prevention of Bacterial Endocarditis Using Antibiotics

What is bacterial endocarditis?

Bacterial endocarditis is an infection of the lining inside of the heart muscle and valves. Bacteria attach themselves to the lining, usually on the heart valves. They grow there and can damage the valves. Children with heart defects or heart diseases (such as rheumatic fever) are more likely to get bacterial endocarditis. This infection can usually be prevented by taking antibiotics before medical or dental procedures.

When should my child take antibiotics?

Dental Procedures:

The most common reason your child will need antibiotics is for dental work. Your child should receive antibiotics before dental procedures when bleeding is expected, such as:

  • cleaning teeth
  • cutting tissue
  • probing the gums
  • reimplanting a tooth
  • placing orthodontic bands.

Your child does not need to take the medicine if there will be no bleeding. Procedures that usually do not cause bleeding include:

  • filling cavities
  • getting a shot to numb the mouth
  • adjusting braces that are already in place
  • getting fluoride treatments.

Antibiotic treatment is not needed when your child loses baby teeth.

Medical Procedures:

Your child should take antibiotics before operations and procedures that involve:

  • The respiratory system, including the nose, mouth, and upper part of the airway (such as removing tonsils or having a rigid bronchoscopy).
  • The stomach and intestines, including the esophagus (the swallowing tube), bile ducts, and colon.
  • The genitals or urinary system, including the bladder and the urethra (the tube that urine goes through).

Procedures that do not require antibiotics include:

  • putting in ear tubes
  • circumcision.

Your health care provider is the only one who can decide if your child needs antibiotics. Always talk to your provider if you have any questions about the need for antibiotics.

Be sure to tell your provider if your child has any allergies to any medicines.

Card For Patient to Carry

  Date _______________________________
  Name _______________________________
  should be treated before certain 
  dental and medical procedures for 
  prevention of bacterial endocarditis 
  because of the following heart
  condition: _________________________

  Prescribed by: _____________________ 
Written by Robert Brayden, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2006-09-12
Last reviewed: 2006-08-22
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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