Over a third of heater-cooler devices used in bypass surgery may be contaminated with Mycobacterium chimaera, potentially putting patients at risk, according to data presented at the conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.
Researchers tested 650 water samples from 90 heater-cooler devices in hospitals around the country. Roughly 37% were positive for M. chimaera, and 4% had Legionella. Nearly 100 cultures had such high levels of bacterial and fungal contamination that the results couldn’t be interpreted.
While water from the devices doesn’t come into direct contact with patients during surgery, contaminated water can aerosolize and transmit bacteria to patients. In addition, bacteria can live in the devices for months.
Previously, the CDC pointed to a risk for infection associated with the commonly used LivaNova’s Stöckert 3T heater-cooler devices. In hospitals that reported an M. chimaera infection, an individual patient’s infection risk ranged from 1 in 100 to 1 in 1000.