During the last decade, ventricular assist devices (VADs) have become a precious tool to support children with end-stage heart failure. However, thromboembolic events, bleeding, and infections may have a considerable impact on outcome. We retrospectively analyzed the incidence of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in nine patients supported by EXCOR Pediatric (Berlin Heart [BH]) VAD in a pediatric cardiosurgical intensive care unit between January 1, 2009 and March 31, 2011 (27 months). Median age was 8 months (interquartile range [IQR] 6–11), median weight 7.5 kg (IQR 4.5–8.5). Seven patients were supported with a left VAD, two with a biventricular VAD (BiVAD). Six patients with a left VAD underwent heart transplant after 89 days (median, IQR 41–143) of support. One patient is still on the waiting list. All patients with BiVAD died after 12 days of assistance due to VAD malfunction. Sixteen HAIs were reported in five out of nine patients (56%). All infected patients were supported by a left VAD. When compared with noninfected patients, they had a longer mechanical support period (median 131 days, IQR 75–164, vs. 25 days, IQR 11–61, P = 0.03), a longer intensive care unit stay (median 159 days, IQR 85–188, vs. 48 days, IQR 17–87, P = 0.06) and a longer length of hospital stay (median 186 days, IQR 105–222, vs. 64 days, IQR 34–113, P = 0.06). Overall, nine mechanical devices were replaced for thromboembolic issues, most of them (67%) in patients with VAD-related infections. Overall, infection rate was 17.6 per 1000 patients days, 1.3 BH endocarditis per 1000 BH days, 4.0 surgical sites infections per 1000 BH days, 12.5 central line-associated blood stream infections per 1000 central venous catheter days, 5 catheter-associated urinary tract infections per 1000 urinary catheter days, and 13.5 ventilator-associated pneumonia cases per 1000 mechanical ventilation days. Overall, VAD-related infections were 5.4 per 1000 BH days. Of the 17 isolated pathogens, 53% were Gram-negative rods, with a prevalence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (35.3%). Four bacteria were multidrug resistant (25%), three were carbapenem-resistant P. aeruginosa (50% of all isolated pseudomonads), and one was a methicillin-resistant S. aureus. VADs used as a bridge to cardiac transplantation are associated with a large number of HAIs. Patients with infected VADs were admitted for longer time in intensive care and in hospital with increased healthcare costs but with no impact on survival.
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