An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is a small battery-powered device placed in your chest to monitor your heart rhythm and detect irregular heartbeats. An ICD can deliver electric shocks via one or more wires connected to your heart to fix an abnormal heart rhythm.
You might need an 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). Ventricles are the lower chambers of your heart.
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. An ICD differs from a pacemaker — another implantable device used to help control abnormal heart rhythms.
Loading the player...Indications for ICD's and Implantation Technique Dr. Denis Roy, MD, FRCP, Cardiologist-Electrophysiologist, talks about when ICD's are indicated and what the implant process involves.
Loading the player...Living with an ICD Dr. Denis Roy, MD, FRCP, Cardiologist-Electrophysiologist, talks about living with an ICD implant.
Loading the player...Subcutaneous Defibrillators Dr. Bernice Tsang, MD, FRCPC, Electrophysiologist and Lynda Gallagher, BSc, RN, CCN(C), CCDS, Nurse, talks about Subcutaneous Defibrillators and the potential benefits they offer.
A defibrillator, or the exact medical term, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator or ICD—this is the acronym I’ll be using—an ICD is a battery-powered device. Here’s an example in the size of the device, that is implanted under the skin, in the chest, close to the heart, and is connected to the heart with a thin wire. The technical term is a lead.
So the device and the lead continuously monitor the heartbeat of the patient. If the device detects an abnormal, serious and dangerous heartbeat, it will identify it and correct it. It will correct it either by what we call overdrive pacing, to pace faster than the abnormal rhythm, which is painless. And if that doesn’t work, or that is not appropriate, the patient will receive a shock, that will immediately correct that abnormal and dangerous heart rhythm. The majority of defibrillators also have a pacemaker function that will correct a slow heart rhythm.
Why do some patients need a defibrillator? ICDs are implanted to prevent sudden cardiac death. Initially, or often, in patients who have survived a serious rapid heartbeat of the lower chambers of the heart, which we call the ventricles, and the arrhythmia, is ventrical tachycardia or ventricle fibrillation. When we implant the device in somebody that has survived this abnormal arrhythmia, it’s called secondary prevention. But very often we implant defibrillators in primary prevention, in patients who have not had a ventricle tachycardia or fibrillation, but who are at high risk of having one. Most often this is in patients who have a ventricle that has been damaged by a heart attack, and we will then implant the device to prevent a serious arrhythmia or sudden death.
What is the surgical implant procedure? The procedure is usually done under local anesthesia, with a sedative, so that the patient will be conscious during the procedure. Sometimes, general anesthesia will be required. The procedure consists of a small incision, of two to three inches in the skin, usually just below the left collarbone, and then we are able to create under the skin a pouch that will receive the ICD device.
The device is connected with wires, or leads, to the heart, and we place the leads by puncturing a vein in the chest, and then we lead that with X-ray images to the heart. ICDs either have one lead, in the right ventricle or a second lead in the right atrium and sometimes a third lead, which is in the outer surface of the left ventricle. This third lead is used to resynchronize the ventricle and improve heart failure in some patients.
Now the most recent ICD is called a subcutaneous ICD, which means that there are no leads inside the heart. The device is usually implanted under the skin, and under the armpit, and the lead is also under the skin and will cross the sternum. The subcutaneous ICD is implanted usually in patients who have a defect or an abnormality of the vein inside the chest.
Overall, implantation of an ICD will take between one to two hours. Patients will stay in the hospital for one to two days. We also explain to the patient that there are some risks. Complications are not common, overall the risk is about 3 to 5 percent, which includes the risk of infection, any time we open the skin. The risk of edema, or collection of blood inside the pouch, is the most frequent risk associated with the ICD procedure. Often seeing a local family physician or a pharmacist in conjunction with a registered dietitian, or a local athletic therapist is a great option to take control of dehydration. In conjunction with healthy eating, exercise, and Smart Food Now If you have any more questions, please call your doctor or your cardiologist, and in some cases, you will need to speak with medical personnel of the defibrillator clinic. Presenter: Dr. Denis Roy, Cardiologist, Montreal, QC