Association of Vegetation Size With Embolic Risk in Patients With Infective Endocarditis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

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ImportanceInfective endocarditis is a life-threating condition with annual mortality of as much as 40% and is associated with embolic events in as many as 80% of cases. These embolic events have notable prognostic implications and have been linked to increased length of stay in intensive care units and mortality. A vegetation size greater than 10 mm has often been suggested as an optimal cutoff to estimate the risk of embolism, but the evidence is based largely on small observational studies.ObjectiveTo study the association of vegetation size greater than 10 mm with embolic events using meta-analytic techniques.Data SourcesA computerized literature search of all publications in the PubMed and EMBASE databases from inception to May 1, 2017, was performed with search terms including varying combinations of infective endocarditis, emboli, vegetation size, pulmonary infarct, stroke, splenic emboli, renal emboli, retinal emboli, and mesenteric emboli. This search was last assessed as being up to date on May 1, 2017.Study SelectionObservational studies or randomized clinical trials that evaluated the association of vegetation size greater than 10 mm with embolic events in adult patients with infective endocarditis were included. Conference abstracts and non–English language literature were excluded. The search was conducted by 2 independent reviewers blinded to the other’s work.Data Extraction and SynthesisFollowing PRISMA guidelines, the 2 reviewers independently extracted data; disputes were resolved with consensus or by a third investigator. Categorical dichotomous data were summarized across treatment arms using Mantel-Haenszel odds ratios (ORs) with 95% CIs. Heterogeneity of effects was evaluated using the Higgins I2 statistic.ResultsThe search yielded 21 unique studies published from 1983 to 2016 with a total of 6646 unique patients with infective endocarditis and 5116 vegetations with available dimensions. Patients with a vegetation size greater than 10 mm had increased odds of embolic events (OR, 2.28; 95% CI, 1.71-3.05; P < .001) and mortality (OR, 1.63; 95% CI, 1.13-2.35; P = .009) compared with those with a vegetation size less than 10 mm.Conclusions and RelevanceIn this meta-analysis of 21 studies, patients with vegetation size greater than 10 mm had significantly increased odds of embolism and mortality. Understanding the risk of embolization will allow clinicians to adequately risk stratify patients and will also help facilitate discussions regarding surgery in patients with a vegetation size greater than 10 mm.

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