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Worldwide, Mycobacterium chimaera infections have been linked to contaminated aerosols from heater-cooler units (HCUs) during open-heart surgery. These infections have mainly been associated with the 3T HCU (LivaNova, formerly Sorin). The reasons for this and the risk of transmission from other HCUs have not been systematically assessed.
Prospective observational study.
University Hospital Basel, Switzerland.
Continuous microbiological surveillance of 3 types of HCUs in use (3T from LivaNova/Sorin and HCU30 and HCU40 from Maquet) was initiated in June 2014, coupled with an epidemiologic workup. Monthly water and air samples were taken. Construction design was analyzed, and exhausted airflow was measured.
Mycobacterium chimaera grew in 8 of 12 water samples (66%) and 22 of 24 air samples (91%) of initial 3T HCUs in use, and in 2 of 83 water samples (2%) and 0 of 41 (0%) air samples of new replacement 3T HCUs. Moreover, 7 of 12 water samples (58%) and 0 of 4 (0%) air samples from the HCU30 were positive, and 0 of 64 (0%) water samples and 0 of 50 (0%) air samples from the HCU40 were positive. We identified 4 relevant differences in HCU design compared to the 3T: air flow direction, location of cooling ventilators, continuous cooling of the water tank at 4°C, and an electronic alarm in the HCU40 reminding the user of the next disinfection cycle.
All infected patients were associated with a 3T HCU. The individual HCU design may explain the different risk of disseminating M. chimaera into the air of the operating room. These observations can help the construction of improved devices to ensure patient safety during cardiac surgery.
Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2018;834–840
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