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Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 1998 Jan;21(1 Pt 1):42-55.

Infections with nonthoracotomy implantable cardioverter defibrillators: can these be prevented? Endotak Lead Clinical Investigators.

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  • 1Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield Medical Research Foundation, Wisconsin, USA. SMITHPN@MFLDCLIN.EDU


Nonthoracotomy ICDs are believed to be the best therapeutic modality for treatment of life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias. Little is known about the risk of infection with initial implantation of these devices. We studied the incidence, clinical characteristics, and risk factors associated with infections in 1,831 patients with nonthoracotomy ICD from the Endotak-C nonthoracotomy lead registry of Cardiac Pacemakers, Inc. A transvenous lead was implanted in 950 patients (51.9%) and a combination transvenous plus subcutaneous patch was used in 881 patients (48.1%). Nine preselected data variables were studied, and all investigators identified as having patients with infections were personally contacted. Infections occurred in 22 (1.2%) of 1,831 patients receiving this nonthoracotomy ICD system. The mean time to infection was 5.7 +/- 6.5 months (range 1-25 months). Staphylococci were isolated in 58% of patients with reported infection. The presence of a subcutaneous defibrillator patch system was associated with the development of infection. Six of 950 patients (0.63%) with a totally transvenous lead system developed infection versus 16 of 838 (1.9%) patients with a transvenous lead plus subcutaneous patch system configuration (P = 0.015, Chi-square test), with an unadjusted estimated odds ratio of 3.06 (CI 1.19-7.86). The risk of infection encountered with the nonthoracotomy ICD is low, estimated from our data to be 1.2%. Placement of a subcutaneous defibrillator patch appears to be an independent risk factor for development of infection.

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