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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Pacing and clinical electrophysiology : PACE Volume 31, Issue 5, May 2008, Pages 548-553. The published version is available at . DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-8159.2008.01039.x. Copyright © Wiley InterScience..


BACKGROUND: Infection is a potentially life-threatening complication of cardiac device implantation. Lead-associated endocarditis (LAE) may be the most serious complication since it is associated with a high mortality. METHODS: The medical records of patients referred to our institution for the treatment of LAE between 1999 and 2007 were reviewed. RESULTS: A total of 51 of 107 patients referred for device-related infections met the criteria for LAE. Of these, 19 occurred within 6 months of their most recent procedure (early), while the remaining 32 occurred more than 6 months later (mean = 31.9 months post procedure). Devices included pacemakers in 33 patients and ICDs in 18 patients. The most common organism responsible for infection was Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) followed by coagulase-negative staphylocci (22%) and streptococci (12%). Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) accounted for 67% of the S. aureus infections. Coagulase-negative staphylococci were responsible for only 26% of early and 19% of late cases. A distant site of infection was common (26/51 = 51%), particularly in patients with MRSA LAE. The device and leads were removed percutaneously in all patients. Only one patient failed to respond to intravenous antibiotics. CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that methicillin-resistant S. aureus is an important pathogen in LAE. Since many infections occur months after the last device procedure, hematogenous spread of organisms from a distant site may be an important contributing factor. These data suggest that strategies to prevent hematogenous infection, particularly with S. aureus, are critical in patients with implantable cardiac devices.

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