Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Infections after cardioverter-defibrillator implantation: observations in 335 patients over 10 years.
  1. H. J. Trappe,
  2. P. Pfitzner,
  3. H. Klein,
  4. P. Wenzlaff
  1. Department of Cardiology, University Hospital, Hanover, Germany.


    OBJECTIVE--To determine the incidence of infection after implantation of a cardioverter-defibrillator and the management of this complication. SUBJECTS--335 consecutive patients who had a cardioverter-defibrillator implanted between January 1984 and December 1993. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Incidence of infection within the first month after implantation (early infection) and after the first month (late infection). RESULTS--Infections associated with cardioverter-defibrillator devices occurred in 13 patients (3.9%) during a mean follow up of 22 (11) months. All patients had general signs of inflammation, fever (> 37.5 degrees C), and leucocytosis (> 10,000/ml) with or without purulent drainage. Five patients (38%) had infections during the first implantation, whereas eight patients (62%) had infections after replacement of the pulse generator. Early infection was observed in four patients (31%) and late infection in nine (69%). Incidence of infection was higher in patients who underwent epicardial cardioverter-defibrillator implantation (12/207 patients, 5.8%) than in those who received nonthoracotomy lead systems (1/125 patients, 0.8%) (P < 0.05). Infections were caused by staphyloccocus in 10 patients, pseudomonas in two patients, and streptococcus in one patient. The whole device had to be removed in all patients. During a mean follow up of 39 (29) months seven patients died: six of congestive heart failure and one of myocardial reinfarction. CONCLUSIONS--Infection, one of the most serious complications after cardioverter-defibrillator implantation, is associated with increased morbidity and mortality. When infection occurs the system must be removed to avoid a fatal outcome.

    Statistics from

    Request Permissions

    If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.