A new research has revealed that around 37% of heater-cooler devices used in open heart surgery have been contaminated with deadly bacteria, creating more risk for the patients.

As per the new research presented at the 44th Annual Conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), around 33 of 89 heater-cooler units evaluated between July 2015 and December 2016 tested positive for Mycobacterium chimaera (M. chimaera).

M. chimaera is bacterium associated with fatal infections in open-heart surgery patients.

Heater-cooler units (HCUs) will regulate the temperature of a patient’s blood and organs during heart bypass surgery.

Earlier, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued safety warnings that a widely used brand of HCUs are expected to be contaminated during manufacturing, keeping patients at risk for life-threatening infections.

Around 60% of heart bypass procedures carried out in the US use the brand of device associated with these infections.

Presented by Special Pathogens Laboratory Services vice president John Rihs, the research provided the knowledge about the extent of colonization of M. chimaera, which expected to be presented in these units.

Rihs, along with his colleagues, evaluated devices already in use for the presence of non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) colonization in HCUs before and after decontamination.

A total of 653 water samples from 89 units have been testes, which were secured from 23 hospitals in 14 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada.

Various other strains of mycobacteria were also detected in many of the units.

Rihs said: “Our results showed M. chimera in 37 percent of units tested and is consistent with previous findings. The extent of contamination from such a rare organism in multiple units from all over the country was surprising.”

Image: The new research has showed that 37% of heater-cooler devices used in open heart surgery were contaminated with bacteria. Photo: courtesy of interphasesolution / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.