Longevity of Implantable Electrophysiology Devices Explanted from Patients Having Autopsy in Hospitals

Published:September 03, 2012DOI:
      The cost of cardiac implantable electrophysiologic devices (CIEDs) remains prohibitively high for many patients in low- and middle-income countries. Recent efforts have focused on obtaining CIEDs for donation and reuse in low- and middle-income countries from funeral homes and after device upgrades. Most patients in the United States die in health care facilities, yet few data exist on the acceptability for reuse of devices from hospital morgues. Three hundred thirty-four autopsies were performed at the University of Pennsylvania morgue from February 2009 to July 2011, during which CIEDs were routinely removed and collected. Devices were interrogated to ascertain remaining longevity. When a longevity estimate was not provided by the device, the manufacturer was contacted to obtain an estimate. Date of death was obtained from the electronic medical record. Twenty-seven patients (8% of autopsies performed) had CIEDs, of which 17 (63%) were pacemakers and 10 (37%) were implantable cardioverter-defibrillators. Two of the defibrillators were part of cardiac resynchronization therapy systems. CIEDs were interrogated 1.7 ± 0.7 years after death. The mean time between implantation and death was 2.5 ± 2.3 years, but 13 (48%) devices were implanted within 1 year of death. Nine devices (33%) had <1 year of battery life remaining, 10 devices (37%) had an estimated longevity of 1 to 4 years, and 8 devices (30%) had longevity estimates of ≥4 years. In conclusion, a significant percentage of patients who underwent autopsy had CIEDs implanted <1 year before death. Hospital morgues may serve as a source for devices in reuse programs, provided patients or their next of kin authorize donation.
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