A pacemaker implantation is the insertion of a small electronic device that is usually placed in the chest to help regulate slow electrical problems with the heart. A pacemaker may be recommended to ensure that the heartbeat does not slow to a dangerously low rate.
Why is a pacemaker needed?
A pacemaker is composed of three parts: a pulse generator, one or more leads, and an electrode on each lead. A pacemaker signals the heart to beat when the heartbeat is too slow or irregular. A pacemaker may be needed when problems occur with the electrical conduction system of the heart. When the timing of the electrical stimulation of the heart to the heart muscle and the subsequent response of the heart’s pumping chambers is altered, a pacemaker may help.
How is the pacemaker implant procedure performed?
The procedure is 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. Once the lead wire(s) is/are inside the heart, it/they will be tested to verify proper location and that it works. Fluoroscopy, (a special type of X-ray that will be displayed on a TV monitor), may be used to assist in testing the location of the leads. The pacemaker generator will be slipped under the skin through the incision (just below the collarbone) after the lead wire is attached to the generator. Once finished, the skin incision will be closed with sutures, adhesive strips, or a special glue and a sterile bandage or dressing will be applied.