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Cardiovasc Ultrasound. 2013 Jan 14;11:3. doi: 10.1186/1476-7120-11-3.

A rabbit model of right-sided Staphylococcus aureus endocarditis created with echocardiographic guidance.

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Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, College of Basic Medical Sciences, China Medical University, No. 92 Beier Road, Heping District, Shenyang 110001, China.



The most widely used experimental models of infective endocarditis (IE) are the rabbit and rat models, in which cardiac valve lesions are induced by a polyethylene catheter introduced into the left ventricle through the aortic valve. Our study was designed to create a rabbit model of IE right-sided with echocardiographic guidance.


Thirty rabbits underwent both catheterization and inoculation (group A). These were divided into three subgroups of ten based on the time of catheter removal (immediately, after 24 h, and after death or moribundity for groups, A(1), A(2), and A(3), respectively). Ten inoculated-only and ten catheterized-only rabbits served as controls. A catheter system consisted of a polyethylene catheter and a guide wire inside it. This system was passed through the rabbits' tricuspid valves under echocardiographic guidance to damage them. The ratio of left ventricle to right ventricle (LV/RV) was measured in a four-chamber view before catheterization and at the time of death or moribundity. The peak velocity of tricuspid regurgitation (V(TR)) was measured in a four-chamber view at the time of catheterization and at the time of death or moribundity. Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC 29213) inoculation was performed 24 h after right heart catheterization to produce IE.


IE was confirmed in 28 of 30 rabbits by macroscopic and histologic examination of tricuspid valves, blood cultures, and bacterial count in cardiac vegetations. Cardiac vegetations were confirmed in 25 of 28 IE rabbits by echocardiography. Enlargement of right ventricle dimension with a significantly decreased LV/RV ratio was confirmed in all IE rabbits at the time of death or moribundity than at the initial state (1.11 ± 0.35 vs. 1.95 ± 0.39, P < 0.01; 1.21 ± 0.34 vs. 1.98 ± 0.35, P < 0.01; 1.04 ± 0.31 vs. 2.00 ± 0.41, P < 0.01 for groups A(1), A(2), and A(3), respectively). V(TR) was significantly higher in all the IE rabbits at the time of death or moribundity than at the time of catheterization (1.89 ± 0.46 vs 0.76 ± 0.45, P < 0.01; 2.04 ± 0.73 vs 0.68 ± 0.66, P < 0.01; 2.24 ± 0.51 vs 0.87 ± 0.55, P < 0.01 for group A(1), A(2), and A(3), respectively).


The models described herein closely reproduced the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of right heart catheter-induced endocarditis in humans. Echocardiographic guidance is helpful in the process of right heart catheterization. Some echocardiographic parameters, such as V(TR) and the LV/RV ratio could be used to assess the success or failure of the IE models.

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