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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2002 Oct;124(4):821-7.

Pediatric pacemaker infections: twenty years of experience.

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  • 1Division of Cardiology, Department of Pediatrics, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 34th and Civic Center Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.



We sought to evaluate possible predictors of early and late pacemaker infections in children.


A review was performed of all pacemakers implanted in children at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia between 1982 and 2001. Infections were classified as superficial cellulitus, deep pacemaker pocket infection necessitating removal, or positive blood culture without an identifiable source.


A total of 385 pacemakers (224 epicardial and 161 endocardial) were implanted in 267 patients at 8.4 +/- 6.2 years. All 2141 outpatient visits were reviewed (median follow-up, 29.4 months; range, 2-232 months). There were 30 (7.8%) pacemaker infections: 19 (4.9%) superficial infections; 9 (2.3%) pocket infections; and 2 (0.5%) isolated positive blood cultures. All superficial infections resolved with intravenous antibiotics. The median time from implantation to infection was 16 days (range, 2 days-5 years). Only 1 deep infection occurred after primary pacemaker implantation. Six patients with deep infections were pacemaker dependent and were successfully managed with intravenous antibiotics, followed by lead-generator removal and implantation of a new pacemaker in a remote location. In univariate analyses trisomy 21 (relative risk, 3.9; P <.01), pacemaker revisions (relative risk, 2.5; P <.01), and single-chamber devices (relative risk, 2.4; P <.05) were identified as predictors of infection. However, in multivariate analyses only trisomy 21 and pacemaker revisions were predictors.


The incidences of superficial and deep pacemaker infections were 4.9% and 2.3%, respectively. Trisomy 21 and pacemaker revisions were significant risk factors in the development of infection after pacemaker implantation. For primary pacemaker implantation, the risk of infection requiring system removal is low (0.3%).

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