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A Ghost Left Behind After Transvenous Lead Extraction: A Finding to be Feared

Rayan S. El-Zein, Mitchell Stelzer, John Hatanelas, Thomas W. Goodlive, Anish K. Amin

(Department of Internal Medicine, Doctors Hospital, Columbus, OH, USA)

Am J Case Rep 2020; 21:e924243

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.924243


BACKGROUND: Following transvenous lead extraction (TLE) for infective endocarditis, a fibrinous remnant, or “ghost”, that previously encapsulated the lead may remain. The main aim of this case report was to highlight the importance of identification of ghosts, their negative implications, and the importance of close monitoring.
CASE REPORT: A 72-year-old male with a history of heart failure with non-ischemic cardiomyopathy and remote cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillator (CRT-D) placement as well as atrioventricular node ablation for atrial fibrillation presented following a mechanical fall. An initial evaluation revealed methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteremia; the suspected nidus was an indwelling chemotherapy port for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Echocardiography demonstrated vegetations on the aortic and mitral valves, and the right atrial device lead concerning for infective endocarditis. After TLE, a temporary transvenous wire was placed. Definitive pacing was then achieved by a Micra leadless pacemaker (LP). We opted with LP technology via the Micra device with plan for subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator (SICD) implantation to mitigate the risk of infection recurrence. After completion of 6 weeks of antibiotics, a pre-SICD transesophageal echocardiogram identified a 1.3 cm mobile echo-dense “ghost” in the right atrium. SICD was implanted as planned. Following expert consensus, no specific therapy was implemented when the ghost was identified. At 3 months, echocardiography revealed the absence of the ghost. At 1-year follow-up, no infection recurrence was noted.
CONCLUSIONS: The presence of ghosts after transvenous lead extraction is associated with poor outcome and infection recurrence thus requiring diligent monitoring and serial echocardiography as optimal management is yet to be defined.

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