Victorian hospitals, including The Alfred, have contacted patients about a rare infection that has been identified in a small number of cardiac surgery patients world-wide.
Patients who had cardiac bypass surgery, or replacement of a heart valve, at The Alfred between July 2011 and June 2016 have been provided with information about the bacterial infection, Mycobacterium chimaera.
An international alert was triggered after Mycobacterium chimaera was found in the water tanks of a medical device known as a Heater Cooler Unit. This device is used in cardiac bypass surgery to keep blood and medicines at the correct temperature during surgery on the heart or aorta.
In the event of bacteria being present in the equipment there is a small chance it may enter the operating theatre environment and potentially to the patient. The affected units have since been recalled.
No patient from a Victorian hospital has been diagnosed with M.chimaera infection after cardiac surgery. To-date, less than 100 cases have been reported internationally.
The risk of an infection due to Mycobacterium chimaera remains very low, however it is important patients have this information and seek medical care if an infection does develop, as there are effective treatments available.
Patients who have undergone cardiac surgery at The Alfred, and have concerns or wish to know more, can phone our information line on 03 9076 2820.
Additional information is also available at the Victorian Government's Better Health Channel.