An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is a device that detects any life-threatening, rapid heartbeat. If such a heartbeat, called an arrhythmia, occurs, the ICD quickly sends an electrical shock to the heart to change the rhythm back to normal. This is called defibrillation.
An ICD is made of these parts:
A surgeon will insert your ICD when you are awake. The area of your chest wall below your collarbone will be numbed with anesthesia, so you will not feel pain. The surgeon will make an incision (cut) through your skin and create space under your skin and muscle for the ICD generator. Usually this space is made near your left shoulder.
Using special x-ray to see inside your chest, the surgeon will place the electrode into a vein, then into your heart. Then the surgeon will connect the electrodes to the pulse generator and pacemaker.
The procedure usually takes 2 to 3 hours.
An implantable cardiac defibrillator is placed in people who are at high risk of sudden cardiac death. Reasons you may be at high risk are:
Epstein, A E, DiMarco, J P, Ellenbogen, K A, Estes, N A, 3rd, Freedman, R A, Gettes, L S, et al. (2008). "ACC/AHA/HRS 2008 Guidelines for Device-Based Therapy of Cardiac Rhythm Abnormalities: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines (Writing Committee to Revise the ACC/AHA/NASPE 2002 Guideline Update for Implantation of Cardiac Pacemakers and Antiarrhythmia Devices): developed in collaboration with the American Association for Thoracic Surgery and Society of Thoracic Surgeons." Circulation;117(21): e350-408.
Hayes DL, Zipes DP. Cardiac pacemakers and cardioverter-defibrillators. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 34.
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