FDG PET/CT for Early Detection and Localization of Left Ventricular Assist Device Infection: Impact on Patient Management and Outcome

Jongho Kim, Erika D. Feller, Wengen Chen, Yuanyuan Liang, Vasken Dilsizian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objectives: The feasibility of 18 F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography (FDG PET/CT) for the diagnosis of left ventricular assist device (LVAD) infection has been demonstrated. Beyond the diagnoses of LVAD infection, the authors hypothesized that the pattern and site of the infection along its various components may significantly impact clinical management and patient outcome. Background: In patients with end-stage heart failure, the clinical use of LVAD for destination therapy is on the rise, accompanied by a higher prevalence of infections and serious complications. Methods: FDG PET/CT was performed in 35 heart failure patients with LVAD, 24 with and 11 without clinical suspicion of infection. Microbiology and/or clinical follow-up were used as the final diagnosis standard. Survival rates were compared in patients with and without FDG evidence of infection, and in relation to peripheral (exit wound site or driveline) versus central (cannula or pump) device infection. Results: Of 35 patients, 28 (80%) showed metabolic evidence of LVAD infection: 5 limited to the periphery and 23 with extension to the central components of the device. The remaining 7 patients showed no metabolic evidence of infection, which was confirmed by microbiology and clinical follow-up. When CT images were interpreted independently from the FDG PET and clinical information, only 4 of 35 (11%) suggested the possibility of infection. Fourteen of 28 (50%) infected patients died during a mean of 23 months of follow-up after the diagnosis by FDG PET/CT: 12 (86%) with central infection and only 2 with peripheral infection. By contrast, none of the 7 (0%) noninfected patients died (p = 0.03). Conclusions: FDG PET/CT is a useful technique for identifying LVAD infection and determining the site and pattern of the infection. The latter has clinical management and patient outcome implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)722-729
Number of pages8
JournalJACC: Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • FDG
  • LVAD
  • PET/CT
  • heart failure
  • infection
  • outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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