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Study: Negligible infection risk from reused pacemakers, ICDs

Ideally, there should be no need to reuse cardiovascular implantable electronic devices (CIED) like pacemakers and defibrillators—every patient should be able to get a new one. But that is not always the case. The price of these devices can be prohibitive to many, and supply shortages can also limit access.

While it is possible to collect, inspect, decontaminate, and re-implant a CIED into a new host, the practice is banned domestically in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Among the main reasons are concerns about infection.

However, a new study suggests those fears might be unfounded. 

While banned for domestic use, used CIEDs from America and Canada have been donated to poorer nations for decades. These devices end up in countries in South America, Africa, and the Caribbean. Each device undergoes a quality check and decontamination before being sent off to be re-implanted. A team of researchers decided to examine how much a patient’s infection risk increased when given a used CIED.

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