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Extraction of infected implanted cardiac devices rare, despite guidelines



Female and Black patients even less likely to undergo extraction

About half (49.1%) of the overall study population was female, but females represented only about 40% of those who developed an infection. Blacks represented just under 8% of the population but nearly 16% of the CIED infections. Both females and Blacks were significantly less likely than the overall study population to undergo extraction for their infection (P < .001 for both).

Perhaps predictably, patients with comorbidities were more likely to develop CIED infections. For example, 87% of those with infection, versus only 64.9% of the overall population, were in heart failure at the time of implantation. Diabetes (68.3% vs. 49.3%), ischemic heart disease (91.9% vs. 79.4%), renal disease (70.5% vs. 37.9%), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (70.6% vs. 55.0%) were also more common at baseline in those who went on to a CIED infection than in the overall population.

Based on the evidence that there is a large unmet need to improve adherence to the guidelines, Dr. Pokorney called for care pathways and other quality initiatives to address the problem.

The reasons that so many patients are not undergoing prompt device extraction at the time of infection is unclear, but Dr. Pokorney offered some hypotheses.

“There appears to be a false belief in the efficacy of antibiotics for treating CIED infections,” Dr. Pokorney said.

Comorbidities shouldn’t delay extraction

It is also possible that clinicians are concerned about performing extractions in patients with multiple comorbidities. If clinicians are delaying extractions for this reason, Dr. Pokorney suggested this behavior is misdirected given the fact that delays appear to increase mortality risk.

Several experts, including Rachel Lambert, MD, an electrophysiologist and professor of medicine at Yale University, New Haven, Conn., agreed that these data deserve a response.

“I was not surprised by the mortality data, but I was surprised at this low extraction rate,” said Dr. Lambert, who concurs with the guidelines. She indicated this study provides teeth to prompt action.

“It is great to have these data about the increased mortality risk to back up the guidelines,” she said.

More information is needed to understand exactly why CIED infection is not now leading to guideline-directed care. Dr. Pokorney said: “Where do we go from here is a key question.”

While several different types of initiatives might be needed, Dr. Pokorney called for regionalization of care to address the fact that not every center that places CIEDs has the capability to perform extractions.

“Extraction is not available at every center, and it probably should not be available at every center, so mechanisms are need to get patients with infection to the specialized centers that provide care,” he said.

Dr. Pokorney has financial relationships with Boston Scientific, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead, Janssen, Medtronic, Pfizer, and Philips. Dr. Lambert reported financial relationships with Abbott, Amgen, and Medtronic.


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