Background: Repeated procedures involving the cardiac implantable electronic device (CIED) pocket increase the infection risk, and the extent of pocket adhesions may prolong the procedure time. Few data on pocket histology at the time of CIED replacement are available. Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe CIED pocket histology in a cohort of patients undergoing CIED replacement or upgrade. Methods: All consecutive patients undergoing CIED replacement or upgrade at our center between November 2019 and May 2020 were enrolled. Subclinical pocket infection was ruled out by physical inspection and laboratory parameters before the procedure. Pocket tissue specimens from the anterior and posterior pockets were obtained intraoperatively. A systematic histological analysis of capsular thickness, fibrous connective tissue, neovascularization, inflammation, and calcifications was performed. Results: Thirty patients (6 women, 20%) were enrolled. The mean capsular thickness was 0.8 ± 0.3 mm in the anterior wall and 1.1 ± 0.4 mm in the posterior wall. Subcapsular fibrosis was mild and multifocal in the anterior wall and moderate and focal in the posterior wall. Neovascularization was focal in most cases, and vessel remodeling mainly involved the tunica media. Chronic inflammation was usually mild and nongranulomatous, and in a quarter of cases, subacute exudative fibrous inflammation was detected in the posterior pocket wall. Conclusion: The CIED pocket is a histopathologically dynamic environment, given the coexistence of both a subacute foreign body response and fibrous tissue growth, implying continuous remodeling due to an injury-repair mechanism. Strategies to interact with foreign body response might minimize inflammatory pocket activity, especially device encapsulation by tight fibrous tissue, and possibly complications related to repeated CIED procedures.
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