Aims: The approach to infected cardiac devices has changed during recent decades. Optimal treatment is still a matter of debate, especially in pacemaker-dependent patients. Therefore, we investigated the management and outcome of patients with pacemaker infections in a single centre over four decades.
Methods and results: We conducted a retrospective analysis of 4212 patients and extracted those with pacemaker infections admitted to Rostock Heart Center between 1973 and 2012. One hundred and thirty-one consecutive patients (median age 69.6 ± 14.9 years) were admitted for device infections. Two-stage exchange was performed in 42 patients (32.8%). In 72 patients (55%), explantation and implantation on the contralateral side was performed simultaneously. In 17 cases the device was not replaced. Mean follow-up was 63 ± 81 months. Reinfection rate was 12.2%, which declined from 24% (1980s) to 2.6% (after 2000). Complete device removal (in 57.3%) reduced the risk for reinfection by 75% (P = 0.02), as well as increasing age (0.049% per year, P = 0.001). One-stage exchange increased the risk of reinfection six-fold (P = 0.021). Cultured bacteria after initiation of antibiotic therapy predicted a four-fold increase in risk of a recurrent infection (P = 0.01).
Conclusion: Continuous assimilation of guidelines for pacemaker infection improved the outcome over time: complete extraction of the infected device seems to be highly desirable. A one-stage exchange increased the risk of recurrent device infection and should probably be avoided, but complete extraction seems to be more important than timing.
Keywords: Device exchange; One-stage-procedure; Pacemaker; Reinfection.