Introduction - Evidence suggests that the rate of cardiovascular implantable electronic device (CIED) infections is increasing more rapidly than the rates of CIED implantation and is associated with considerable mortality, morbidity and health economic impact. Antimicrobial surface treatments are being developed for CIEDs to reduce the risk of postimplantation infection within the subcutaneous implant pocket.
Methods and Analysis - The feasibility of processing cardiac pacemakers with the Agluna antimicrobial silver ion surface technology and in vivo biocompatibility were evaluated. Antimicrobially processed (n=6) and control pacemakers (n=6) were implanted into subcutaneous pockets and connected to a part of the sacrospinalis muscle using an ovine model for 12 weeks. Pacemaker function was monitored preimplantation and postimplantation.
Results - Neither local infection nor systemic toxicity were detected in antimicrobial or control devices, and surrounding tissues showed no abnormal pathology or over-reactivity. Semiquantitative scores of membrane formation, cellular orientation and vascularity were applied over five regions of the pacemaker capsule and average scores compared. Results showed no significant difference between antimicrobially processed and control pacemakers. Silver analysis of whole blood at 7 days found that levels were a maximum of 10 parts per billion (ppb) for one sample, more typically ≤2 ppb, compared with <2 ppb for preimplantation levels, well below reported toxic levels.
Conclusions - There was no evidence of adverse or abnormal pathology in tissue surrounding antimicrobially processed pacemakers, or deleterious effect on basic pacing capabilities and parameters at 12 weeks. This proof of concept study provides evidence of basic biocompatibility and feasibility of applying this silver ion-based antimicrobial surface to a titanium pacemaker surface.