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J Heart Lung Transplant. 2019 Apr;38(4):364-373. doi: 10.1016/j.healun.2019.01.007. Epub 2019 Jan 17.

Epidemiology of infection in mechanical circulatory support: A global analysis from the ISHLT Mechanically Assisted Circulatory Support Registry.

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Department of Clinical Microbiology, Mater Misercordiae University Hospital, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. Electronic address:
James and John Kirklin Institute for Research in Surgical Outcomes (KIRSO), University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama.
Department of Cardiology, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Michigan.
Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.
EUROMACS, EACTS, Windsor, United Kingdom.
Department of Paediatrics, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Division of Infectious Diseases, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.
Department of Infectious Diseases, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio.
Department of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Deutsches Herzzentrum, Berlin, Germany.
Heart Failure and Transplant Unit, Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Maki Health Care Group, Maki Hospital, Osaka City, Osaka, Japan.



Despite advances in device technology and treatment strategies, infection remains a major cause of adverse events (AEs) in mechanical circulatory support (MCS) patients. To characterize the epidemiology of MCS infection, we examined the type, location, and timing of infection in the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation Registry (ISHLT) for Mechanically Assisted Circulatory Support (IMACS) over 3 years, 2013 to 2015.


Interagency Registry for Mechanically Assisted Circulatory Support (INTERMACS) definitions were used to categorize AE infections occurring in MCS patients within IMACS. The IMACS infection variables were mapped to ISHLT definitions for infection where feasible. Three categories of MCS infection were defined as ventricular assist device (VAD) specific, VAD related, and non-VAD.


There were 10,171 patients enrolled from January 2013 through December 2015. Infection was the most common AE, with 3,788 patients (37%) experiencing ≥ 1 infection, and 6,758 AE infections reported overall. Non-VAD infection was the largest category, 4,501: 34.0% pneumonias, 30.6% non-VAD-related bloodstream infections (BSIs), 24.15% urinary tract infections (UTIs), and 10.2% gastrointestinal infections. VAD-specific infection was the second largest category, 1,756: 82.9% driveline, 12.8% pocket, and 4.3% pump/or cannula infections. VAD-related infection was the smallest category, 501: 47.5% BSIs, 47.5% mediastinitis, and 5.0% mediastinitis/pocket infections. All 3 categories were more frequently reported ≤ 3 months after implant.


Non-VAD infection, including pneumonia, BSI, UTI, and gastrointestinal infection, was the leading category of infection in MCS patients and the most frequently reported ≤ 3 months after implant. These results provide evidence to support resourcing and strengthening infection prevention strategy early after implantation in MCS.


IMACS registry; adverse events; infection; mechanical circulatory support; ventricular assist device

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