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Circulation. 1998 May 12;97(18):1791-5.

Role of the preaxillary flora in pacemaker infections: a prospective study.

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Service de Cardiologie, Hôpital cardiovasculaire et pneumologique, Lyon, France.



Infection remains a severe complication after pacemaker implantation. The purpose of our prospective study was to evaluate the role of the local bacteriologic flora in its occurrence.


Specimens were collected at the site of implantation for culture from the skin and the pocket before and after insertion in a consecutive series of patients who underwent elective permanent pacemaker implantation. Microorganisms isolated both at the time of insertion and of any potentially infective complication were compared by using conventional speciation and ribotyping. There were 103 patients (67 men and 36 women) whose age ranged from 16 to 93 years (mean+/-SD, 67+/-15). At the time of pacemaker implantation, a total of 267 isolates were identified. The majority (85%) were staphylococci. During a mean follow-up of 16.5 months (range, 1 to 24), infection occurred in four patients (3.9%). In two of them, an isolate of Staphylococcus schleiferi was recognized by molecular method as identical to the one previously found in the pacemaker pocket. In one patient, Staphylococcus aureus, an organism that was absent at the time of pacemaker insertion, was isolated. In another patient, a Staphylococcus epidermidis was identified both at the time of pacemaker insertion and when erosion occurred; however, their antibiotic resistance profiles were different.


This study strongly supports the hypothesis that pacemaker-related infections are mainly due to local contamination during implantation. S schleiferi appears to play an underestimated role in infectious colonization of implanted biomaterials and should be regarded as an important opportunistic pathogen.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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