Interventional cardiology

Heater-cooler unit related infections on the rise


The number of open-heart surgery patients who have contracted a rare and serious bacterial infection is on the rise with another case confirmed by health authorities yesterday.

The man, aged in his 80s, has become the fourth Australian and the third at the Prince of Wales Hospital to be diagnosed with Mycobacterium chimaera (M. chimaera) after being exposed to contaminated heater-cooler units during surgery in 2015.

Australia’s first case was reported in Queensland last year and more than 100 people across the globe have now developed the infection.

In an update issued yesterday, the TGA confirmed that all patient infections to date have been traced to the Stöckert 3T heater cooler devices manufactured prior to September 2014.

The drug authority has since suspended the product while it conducts its safety review into all heater cooler devices used in cardiac bypass procedures.

While no further units can be legally supplied to hospitals in Australia, existing units can continue to be used “at the discretion of the health facility,” it advised.

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