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Winnipeg Heart Surgery Patients Being Notified of Potential Infection

October 31, 2016 12:28 PM | News

By Sarah Klein

St. Boniface Hospital

St. Boniface Hospital

Patients who had open heart surgery dating back to 2012 at St. Boniface Hospital are being notified of the risk of a potential infection.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority’s Cardiac Sciences Program is reaching out to adult cardiac surgery patients as a device used to heat and cool blood during the surgery has been linked to a bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium chimaera. That’s a type of bacteria known as non-tuberculosis mycobacteria (NTM).

“The chances of getting this infection are very low, and for most patients, the benefit of undergoing the procedure outweighs the risk of infection,” said Dr. Rakesh Arora, a cardiac surgeon in the Cardiac Sciences Program.

“Our priority is the wellbeing of our patients, and out of an abundance of caution, we are notifying patients of this risk.”

The heating?cooling devices are essential to performing open heart cardiac surgeries. The devices are used in hospitals across the country, as well as the United States and Europe. It is strongly suspected the bacteria was present in the machines upon manufacturing but was not detected at the time.

“Over 4,300 patients who have undergone open heart surgery at St. Boniface Hospital since 2012 will receive a letter in the mail advising them of the risk and letting them know who to contact should they have any questions or concerns,” Arora added.

Individuals who have had open heart surgery should contact their family physician if they are experiencing the following symptoms: night sweats; muscle aches; weight loss; fatigue; unexplained fever; and redness, heat, or pus around the sternal surgical incision. Patients who have had symptoms for more than a week are encouraged to contact their family physician or the Cardiac Clinic line at 1?877?358?0426 to be screened.