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Abnormal Heart Rhythms and Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICD)

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What Happens During the Procedure? continued...

The ICD may be implanted in two ways, but the endocardial (transvenous) approach is most common.

A small incision is made under the collarbone. The lead is placed into a vein and guided inside your heart chamber. The generator is placed under skin in your upper chest and attached to the lead(s).

On rare occasion, it may be necessary for your doctor to implant your ICD using the epicardial approach (outside your heart). This requires open-heart surgery. Instead of placing the lead through a vein and guiding it to the heart, it is sewn onto the heart. Minimally invasive approaches, such as robotic-assisted surgery, are available to lessen the trauma associated with this type of surgery. Your doctor will decide if this approach is necessary for you.

The ICD implantation procedure takes about two to five hours to perform.

What Happens After the ICD Is Placed?

You will normally be admitted to the hospital overnight after your ICD is implanted.

The morning after your implant, you will have a chest X-ray to make sure the ICD leads are in the proper position and your ICD will be programmed to ensure it is functioning properly.

You will receive information about the type of ICD and leads you have, the date of implantation, and the name of the doctor who performed the procedure. In about three months after the procedure, you will receive a permanent identification card with this information. It is important that you carry this card with you at all times in case you need medical attention.

For the first six weeks after the procedure, avoid lifting, pushing, or pulling objects that weigh more than 10 pounds. If you had open-heart surgery, it may take longer for you to get back to some activities. Your doctor or nurse will discuss specific activity guidelines with you before you leave the hospital.

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