An Information Letter to Cardiac Patients

21/03/2017

The Trust has issued advice to some patients regarding a low risk infection caused by Mycobacterium chimaera.

We have contacted around 2,000 patients who have had certain types of open heart surgery, to inform them that they may have a very low risk of infection. Only patients who have had heart valve replacement or valve repair surgery, including procedures undertaken as part of congenital heart disease surgery, since January 2013 are being contacted.

This advice follows new information indicating that some of the heater-cooler devices used to help keep the blood and organs at a specific temperature during surgery, might be contaminated by M chimaera that could put patients at risk of infection. The risk is very low and this step is being taken as a precaution.

Belfast Trust is working closely with the Public Health Agency to monitor the situation and we stress that the risk to patients from surgery where heater/cooler units is used is low.

Work is ongoing to further evaluate and reduce the risk associated with these devices, as well as increase clinical and patient awareness. Patients who have had open heart surgery since 2013 and are concerned about symptoms should contact their GP in the first instance. 

For further information about Mycobacterium chimaera infection watch the video below or visit the NHS choices website.