Aims: Infection is a serious complication of pacemaker (PM) systems. Although the rate of infection has been debated, the figures are largely unknown. We therefore studied the incidence of PM infection and its associated risk factors in the Danish population.
Methods and results: Since 1982, all PM implantation and removal procedures performed in Denmark have been prospectively recorded in the Danish Pacemaker Register. All patients (n = 46299) who underwent implantation between 1982 and 2007 were included. The total length of surveillance was 236,888 PM-years. The incidence of infection was calculated according to the total number of PM-years. The incidence of surgical site infection (≤ 365 days after PM implantation) was compared with later infection in first implant and replacement procedures. Multiple-record and multiple-event-per-subject proportional hazards analyses were used to identify the independent risk factors of PM infection. Surgical site infection occurred in 192 cases after first implantation (incidence rate 4.82/1000 PM-years), and in 133 cases after replacement (12.12/1000 PM-years). Infections occurring more than 365 days after the first implantation occurred in 153 cases (1.02/1000 PM-years), and in 118 cases after replacement (3.26/1000 PM-years). Independent factors associated with an increased risk of PM infection were a greater number of PM operations (including replacements), male sex, younger age, implantation during the earliest part of the study period, and absence of antibiotics (P< 0.001).
Conclusion: The overall risk of infection after PM implantation was low. A greater number of operations augmented the risk of infection. This should be taken into account when considering revisions of PM systems.