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St. Mary's Hospital | Madison Contaminated Heater-Cooler Devices

Contaminated Heater-Cooler Devices

​The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating reports that during certain open-chest cardiac surgeries the device used to heat and cool the blood has been linked to a rare bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium chimaera, a species of bacteria known as nontuberculous mycobacterium (NTM). 

For patients who have had one of these surgeries, the chances of getting this infection are very low. The CDC estimates the risk to be less than 1 percent. Of the patients at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital – Madison who have had an open-chest cardiac surgery using this device we are aware of zero patient(s) who have developed this infection.  

As with all our medical equipment, St. Mary’s Hospital takes appropriate measures to ensure that these devices are safe to use and to reduce the risk of infection for our patients, including adherence to the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance and disinfection. But even with these protective measures, it is possible to develop an infection.

This infection is very slow-growing and difficult to diagnose. It is possible to develop symptoms years after surgery, so it is imperative to know the symptoms to look for and to discuss any symptoms or questions you may have with your primary care doctor. This infection cannot be spread person-to-person.

Symptoms of an NTM infection may include:

  • night sweats
  • muscle aches
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • unexplained fever

If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms,
we encourage you to contact to your primary care provider.  

A Message from the CDC

If you have additional questions or concerns about the information you have received, you may call the SSM Health Dean Medical Group Cardiovascular Clinic Triage Nurse at 608-260-2921 available from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm (CST), Monday through Friday.