That risk is very rare. But the machines are ubiquitous, the confirmed cases are mounting, and the CDC recently linked several separate NTM outbreaks to the same source of contamination: a manufacturing facility owned by the European company LivaNova, which produces 60 percent of all heater-coolers used in the U.S.
Like previous advisories, the October guidelines call on hospitals to take steps to reduce the risk of infection from the devices. Unlike those earlier alerts, the new ones also advise hospitals that use the LivaNova brand heater-coolers to test their machines for contamination and to develop protocols for alerting patients if a device is found to be contaminated or if an outbreak occurs.
What Heart Surgery Patients Need to Know
- If you are undergoing open chest surgery, ask your physician whether a heater-cooler device, or HCD, will be used for the operations, and if so, whether it has been tested for contamination or implicated in any outbreaks.
- If you’ve already had heart surgery, you and your primary-care doctor should be on the lookout for signs of infection, including irritation around the surgical incision, and unexplained fevers, night sweats, muscle aches, or weight loss, which can emerge as long as four years after surgery.