Implantable LVAD infections: Implications for permanent use of the device

Patrick M. McCarthy, Steven K. Schmitt, Rita L. Vargo, Steven Gordon, Thomas F. Keys, Robert E. Hobbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


Background. Infection in implantable left ventricular assist device (LVAD) patients is common and has serious implications regarding permanent use of the LVAD. Methods. Thirty-three patients had HeartMate LVAD insertion as a bridge to heart transplantation. The mean length of hospital stay was 8 days before LVAD insertion. Before insertion 6 patients (18%) had positive pulmonary cultures and 5 patients (15%) had bacteremia. Results. During LVAD support 18 patients (55%) had bloodstream infection. Of 24 patients (73%) successfully bridged to transplantation, 12 (50%) had positive blood cultures including Staphylococcus species (n = 9), Candida (n = 3), Pseudomonas (n = 2), and Enterococcus (n = 2). Infectious complications encountered in this series included driveline infection requiring surgical revision, septic embolus, 'cleared' device infection, 'suppressed' device infection, and LVAD infection treated by device removal in 1 patient and device exchange in another. Conclusions. Infection in implantable LVAD patients is common, especially in patients in whom multiple organ failure develops, requiring prolonged stay in the intensive care unit. Strategies are needed to prevent these infections in recipients of the permanent LVADs because treatment of an established infection is difficult and expensive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-365
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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