Defibrillator Implantation

What is a Defibrillator?

A defibrillator also known as an implantable cardioverter defibrillator or ICD is an electronic device that helps your heart’s electrical system. An ICD monitors your heart rhythm (the speed and pattern of your heartbeat). If this rhythm becomes too fast or too slow an ICD sends out electrical signals that help bring the rhythm back to normal. The ICD is put inside your body during a minor surgical procedure called implantation. In most cases implantation takes 1 to 3 hours.

What happens during implantation?

This procedure is performed at the hospital. When you arrive you will change into a hospital gown and an intravenous line or IV will be started. You will then be taken to the procedure room.

An incision is made in the skin below the collarbone. This creates a pocket to hold the ICD. A lead (wire) is threaded through the incision into a vein in the upper chest. With the help of x-ray monitors, the lead is then guided into one of the heart’s chambers. The leads are attached to the heart muscle so they will stay in place. The generator (battery) is attached to the leads. Then the generator is placed in its pocket under the skin.

You will stay in the hospital a day or two and your heart’s signals will be monitored to see how the ICD is working. You can go home when your condition is stable.

After the procedure don’t raise your arm above your shoulder for at least a week. This gives the lead a chance to secure inside your heart.

What should I do after I go home?

Follow your discharge instructions to care for your incision. You will likely have bruising at the incision site for about a month. This is normal and will go away as the incision heals.

You can probably return to your normal routine soon after implantation. Ask your doctor when you can return to work.

See your doctor for follow up visits as recommended.