Risk of NTM Infections from the Stockert 3T System
The main concern raised in connection with the Stockert 3T heater-cooler system is the potential for the device to transmit Mycobacterium chimaera to patients during surgery, which can cause life-threatening nontuberculous mycobacteria infections (NTM). According to reports, the water in the heater-cooler unit’s tanks may be contaminated with M. chimaera, and while the water in the circuits never comes in direct contact with patients, the bacterium can be released into the air through the device’s exhaust vent and into the operating room and sterile surgical site. Although Mycobacterium chimaera occurs naturally in the environment and rarely causes problems for healthy individuals, it poses a serious risk for individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing invasive surgeries, and may result in nontuberculous mycobacteria infections.
Patients who have undergone cardiac surgery with a heater-cooler system should be aware of the possible symptoms and complications of NTM infections, which can occur years after the initial surgery, including fever, night sweats, weight loss, joint pain, fever, surgical site infection, endocarditis, and renal insufficiency. Unfortunately, because there can be a long delay between the time a patient is exposed to the Mycobacterium chimaera and when the patient begins to exhibit symptoms of an NTM infection, the infection can be difficult to detect, which increases the likelihood of serious illness or death.