Long-Term Success With Driveline Exit Site Relocation for Deep Driveline Infection in Left Ventricular Assist Device Patients

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Driveline infection is a common complication of durable left ventricular assist device support. The majority involve the driveline exit site and can be treated with antibiotics and local wound care. Less frequently, these infections extend into deeper tissues and surgical debridement is necessary. Few studies have described the surgical strategy for treatment of deep driveline infection or have reported long-term outcomes. With a growing population of patients being implanted as destination therapy, there is an obvious need to evaluate and optimize treatment for complex driveline infections.


Outcomes of patients undergoing durable left ventricular assist device implantation at a single center between 2011 and 2017 were reviewed retrospectively. Data including occurrence of driveline infection, pathogen, time to driveline infection, and treatment strategy were abstracted from the electronic medical record.


Driveline infection occurred in 10 (16.4%) of 61 patients at a median of 362 days (Q1 = 99, Q3 = 694) after primary left ventricular assist device implantation. Three (30.0%) of 10 driveline infections were categorized as deep and did not resolve with intravenous antibiotic therapy. In these cases, a multistage approach that included initial debridement and exteriorization of the infected driveline, followed by delayed surgical relocation of the driveline in a clean vascularized soft tissue bed, was used. Long-term device salvage was achieved in all cases.


An aggressive surgical strategy, including debridement and formal relocation of the driveline exit site, can result in long-term device salvage after deep driveline infection. This approach is a less invasive alternative to device exchange for refractory driveline infections.

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