During a defibrillator implant, an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) — a pager-sized device — is placed in your chest to reduce your risk of dying if the lower chambers of your heart (ventricles) go into a dangerous rhythm and stop beating effectively (cardiac arrest).
Why is a defibrillator needed?
You might need an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) if you have a dangerously fast heartbeat (ventricular tachycardia) or a chaotic heartbeat that keeps your heart from supplying enough blood to the rest of your body (ventricular fibrillation). ICDs detect and stop abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias). The device continuously monitors your heartbeat and delivers electrical pulses to restore a normal heart rhythm when necessary.
How is the defibrillator implant procedure performed?
The procedure is typically performed using local anesthetic and sedative medication administered through an IV. A sheath, or introducer, is inserted into a blood vessel, and a lead wire is inserted and advanced into the heart. The ends of the leads are secured to your heart, while the other ends are attached to the generator, which is usually implanted under the skin beneath your collarbone. Once the ICD is in place, your doctor will test it and program it for your heart rhythm problem. Testing the ICD might require speeding up your heart and then shocking it back into normal rhythm.
After the defibrillator implant procedure
You’ll stay in the hospital one or two days, and the ICD might be tested once more before you’re discharged. Additional testing of your ICD usually doesn’t require surgery. Your doctor might prescribe pain medication.