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Date of last update: 8/19/2017.

Forum Name: Surgery Topics

Question: Should one pacer wire be left completely inside of body...?

 aboutmydad - Fri Jan 09, 2009 11:29 pm


My father had open heart surgery in December 2007. They replaced his aortic valve and did a triple bypass. Nine months later he noticed a sore on his body located mid torso-ish. The sore was oozing and would not go away. He went to see his primary care physician, who probed it and did a culture. Culture came back with e-coli. He was put on antibiotics. The sore still didn't go away. Went back to PCP, who cut it open, put a drain in it, sent in a biopsy, and put my dad back on antibiotics. Sore drained for a week. Benign biopsy. But, wouldn't go away. Six more visits to the PCP, two more rounds of antibiotics. Sore continued to ooze. PCP sent him to a surgeon (not a heart surgeon). The surgeon cut into the sore and probed around. A minute later he pulled out an eight inch wire. Apparently this was a wire that was put in place after the surgery in case my dad needed a pacemaker to regulate his heart. He did not need a pacemaker. The surgeon had an xray done to see where the other wire might be. Xray did not show another wire. My father now had a staph infection that was treated with antibiotics. The surgeon seemed surprised to find this wire. My mom almost fainted as she watched.

I understand that some heart surgeons put pacer wires in after the surgery in case the heart needs to be regulated. However, these wires are supposed to be removed before the patient leaves the hospital. Is there any reason that one wire would be left completely inside of the body? I have done research and cannot find any reason for this. These pacer wires are supposed to be attached to the heart, with the other ends remaining outside of the body. I cannot see any use for leaving one loose and having it work its way out of the body on its own.

Thank you very much.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Fri Jan 30, 2009 1:13 am

User avatar Hello -

To get straight to the point, somehow the lone wire was left in when it should have been removed at the same time its mate was removed. The only reason I can think of that this would have happened (other than gross human error) would be that this wasn't the entire wire and that perhaps the outer part broke off and was withdrawn. I just can't imagine anyone pulling one wire, then walking away, unless there was some sort of local crisis that broke out right at the moment the wires were being removed.

In short, there is no good reason for this. It is a medical error. Thank goodness it was found and removed and that it didn't migrate further inward.

I hope this clarifies this issue for you. Good luck to you and your father.

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