Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) removed for upgrades or infection may be reused safely in other patients, according to research being presented today at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2010, held in Chicago.
Researchers sent explanted ICDs with 70 percent or more battery life to India, where the devices were carefully cleaned and re-sterilized. They were re-implanted in indigent patients who were at risk of life-threatening arrhythmias but couldn’t afford the devices.
Thirty-one patients received explanted, re-sterilized ICDs for standard ICD indications. During an average follow-up of two years and two months, there were no infections and 42 percent of the patients got appropriate life-prolonging shocks from their ICDs. Five of 31 (16 percent) patients got a second re-sterilized ICD after almost three years because of battery depletion.
If additional studies prove this to be a safe strategy, there could be important socioeconomic implications, researchers said.