Patients in Massachusetts that require open-heart surgery may be at risk for infection during the operation. On Oct. 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning about infections caused by a medical device that is used in these procedures. At least 11 patients in the U.S. and more patients abroad may have contracted infections from the heater-cooler device during open-heart surgery.
The heater-cooler device is an artificial heart valve that is used to keep a patient's blood at the right temperature during open-heart surgery. Some patients require valves and other products to be implanted in their bodies during the procedure. According to an infectious disease specialist from Switzerland, the heater-cooler unit is not airtight, and mycobacteria floating around in an operating room can fall onto the artificial heart valve before it is implanted in a patient.