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Imminent infections due to contaminated devices in cardiac surgery


US health agency warns of increased risk of infection after heart surgery
Patients who recently underwent open heart surgery are particularly at risk of developing a life-threatening infection, according to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Specialists found that contaminated devices trigger this particular danger for affected patients. A device for cooling seems to be to blame for the increased risk of infection.

Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in the United States that patients with open heart surgery are at particularly high risk of developing an infection. The CDC warned in a press release that contaminated devices in cardiac surgery can lead to such an infection.

If you develop an infection after a heart operation, see a doctor immediately
If you have recently had an open heart surgery and are now developing the symptoms of an infection, you should see a doctor urgently, the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say. These symptoms include, for example, profuse sweating during the night, weight loss, abdominal pain, fatigue, fever, muscle or joint pain, nausea and vomiting. Because such symptoms can be the result of a variety of diseases, the infections may be difficult to detect, the researchers warn. A medical device that is usually used for heart surgery appears to be increasingly contaminated and to trigger the infections. However, the experts add that it can take months, or in some cases even years, for these symptoms to appear.

Many cases with contaminated coolers in 2015
In the past year, there have been at least 28 cases in the United States where bacteria from a particular device in surgery have been involved in causing an infection, doctors say. The cases have been found in Pennsylvania, Iowa and Michigan, for example. So-called Stöckert 3T heating coolers are used in many heart operations. However, if this device becomes contaminated during manufacture, it can cause life-threatening infections. The cooling device is normally designed to keep patient's bloodstream and organs at a safe temperature during open heart surgery, specialists at the CDC say. Doctors estimate that approximately 60 percent of all so-called heart bypass procedures in the United States use such a device.

Doctors are observing an increased risk of infection
The employees of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suspect that the affected devices were contaminated during the manufacturing process in Germany. In hospitals where infection has already occurred, the risk of infection during surgery was between about one in a hundred cases and one in a thousand cases, doctors add.

There were infections in European patients as early as 2015
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had already raised concerns about the device in October 2015. She had warned healthcare providers that the affected device was associated with infection. In July 2015, the FDA published another report that found a direct connection between the infection of European patients and the specific heating element cooler. (as)

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