The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recently issued updated advisories regarding heater-cooler machines used in open-chest surgery. The machines used to heat and cool the blood during surgery have been linked to a rare bacterial infection caused by Mycobacterium chimaera, a slow-growing species of nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM).
For patients who have had open-chest surgeries, the chances of getting this infection are very low. The CDC estimates the risk to be less than 1 percent. This type of infection is very slow growing and it cannot spread from person to person. It is possible to develop symptoms years after surgery, so it is important to know the symptoms.
Symptoms of an NTM infection can include (but not limited to):