Background: Cardiac device (CD) endocarditis is an infrequent but potentially lethal infectious complication of permanent pacemakers or implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs), and mortality rates of 30 to 35% have been reported. Medical treatment has been suggested for the treatment of CD endocarditis, but there is increasing evidence that surgical treatment is to be preferred as the best approach to achieve eradication of the infection and reduce mortality.
Objective: To evaluate the following: (1) the clinical and echocardiographic characteristics of patients with pacemaker or ICD endocarditis, (2) the outcome of this population depending on the mode of treatment (medical vs surgical treatment), and (3) the clinical, microbiological, echocardiographic, and therapeutic variables associated with patient outcome.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting: Tertiary referral center in Barcelona, Spain.
Patients: All consecutive patients with infectious endocarditis (IE) admitted to the study institution between 1990 and 2001 were prospectively evaluated by a multidisciplinary treatment team, and a definite diagnosis of CD endocarditis was established when cases met pathologic or clinical criteria according to the Duke criteria.
Results: A total of 31 patients, 25 men and 6 women aged 61 ± 15 years (mean ± SD), with pacemaker or ICD endocarditis were identified among 669 consecutive patients (4.6%) with IE. During the study period, a total of 3,768 pacemakers and 460 ICDs were implanted in the study institution. In 22 cases of pacemaker endocarditis, the pacemaker was implanted in our institution, and 9 cases were referred from other institutions (incidences of endocarditis on pacemaker and ICD implanted in our institution of 0.58% and 0.65%, respectively). Medical treatment without removal of the pacing system was initially performed on seven patients; all of them (100%) had relapses of endocarditis, and one patient died. The remaining 24 patients underwent surgical removal of the pacing system; 1 patient had one relapse, 3 patients died after surgical treatment, and the others were successfully cured with no relapses after a mean follow-up of 38 ± 9 months. Clinical, echocardiographic, microbiological, and therapeutic variables were evaluated in association with prognosis. The only prognostic factor for failure of treatment or mortality was the absence of surgical treatment (p < 0.0001).
Conclusions: Electrode lead endocarditis occurred in < 1% of pacemaker and ICD implants. Conservative treatment without explantation of all hardware failed in all patients, and surgical treatment during antibiotic therapy was effective in eradication of infection but was associated with a 12.5% mortality. The only patient characteristic associated with treatment failure or death was the absence of surgical removal of all infected hardware. Complete extraction of the pacemaker or ICD should be considered as standard therapy for most patients with CD endocarditis.