No cases of infection observed at the MUHC related to the use of heater-cooler devices during open-heart surgery

Yesterday, the Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) advised its patients, who have undergone open-heart surgery, that there is a very small risk of bacterial infection associated from certain machines (heater-cooler devices) used during heart surgeries that require extracorporeal blood circulation. 

The heater-cooler devices in question, which are used in many hospitals throughout North America and Europe, may have been contaminated with the bacteria Mycobacterium chimaera during their manufacture in Germany.

At present, we have no evidence that the heater-cooler devices used at the MUHC are contaminated by the bacteria associated with the infections. No cases of such an infection have been observed in our institution following the surgeries practiced at the MUHC. All cleaning and disinfection measures recommended by the manufacturer, as well as quality controls, are in place at the MUHC and are being carefully observed.

It is important to note that transmission of the bacteria in question occurs through the air. At the MUHC, we operate under the highest standards of operating ventilation, which evacuates air that might potentially be contaminated.

We will continue to monitor the situation very closely and collaborate with our provincial and national partners. We will advise the public if the situation changes.

Finally, MUHC patients who have any questions on this subject can dial (514) 843-1560, Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Additional information on this bacterial contamination symptoms :

For a patient who has had surgery:

  • If the patient has no fever or general deterioration in their health, no testing is required (including biochemical, bacteriological or imaging). An annual check-up is sufficient.
  • For patients who have had heart surgery in the past five years, and suffer from persistent fever (over a week) and overall declining health, a standard examination for the most common infections should be carried out, including a blood culture with a specific (“mycolytic”) search for Mycobacterium chimaera. An examination for infectious diseases with a precise diagnosis to rule it out is suggested.