Fluorescence in situ hybridization and polymerase chain reaction to detect infections of cardiac implantable electronic devices

Europace. 2023 Feb 16;25(2):578-585. doi: 10.1093/europace/euac228.


Aims: In patients with infections of cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs), the identification of causative pathogens is complicated by biofilm formations and previous antibiotic therapy. In this work, the impact of an additional fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), in combination with polymerase chain reaction and sequencing (FISHseq) was investigated.

Methods and results: In 36 patients with CIED infections, FISHseq of explanted devices was performed and compared with standard microbiological cultivation of preoperative and intraoperative samples. The mean age was 61.9 (±16.2) years; 25 (69.4%) were males. Most patients (62.9%) had heart failure with reduced ejection fraction. Infections occurred as endoplastits (n = 26), isolated local generator pocket infection (n = 8), or both (n = 2); CIED included cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillator (n = 17), implantable cardioverter defibrillator (n = 11), and pacemaker (n = 8) devices. The overall positive FISHseq detection rate was 97%. Intraoperatively, pathogens were isolated in 42 vs. 53% in standard cultivation vs. FISHseq, respectively. In 16 of 17 FISHseq-negative patients, the nucleic acid strain DAPI (4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole) indicated inactive microorganisms, which were partially organized in biofilms (n = 4) or microcolonies (n = 2). In 13 patients in whom no pathogen was identified preoperatively, standard cultivation and FISHseq identified pathogens in 3 (23%) vs. 8 (62%), respectively. For the confirmation of preoperatively known bacteria, a combined approach was most efficient.

Conclusion: Fluorescence in situ hybridization sequencing is a valuable tool to detect causative microorganisms in CIED infections. The combination of FISHseq with preoperative cultivation showed the highest efficacy in detecting pathogens. Additional cultivation of intraoperative tissue samples or swabs yielded more confirmation of pathogens known from preoperative culture.

Keywords: CIED infection; Device infection; Endoplastitis; FISHseq; Fluorescence in situ hybridization.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Defibrillators, Implantable*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Male
  • Pacemaker, Artificial*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections* / diagnosis


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents