Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

Getting an ICD Heart Device? New Advice

Check Doctor's Experience at Implanting the Devices, Study Suggests
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 11, 2005 -- Practice may not make perfect, but it may be a plus for doctors who implant heart devices called ICDs.

ICDs are implantable cardioverter defibrillators. They're tiny devices placed under the skin, with electrodes leading to the heart. If the heart starts beating at a dangerous rhythm, the ICD can shock it back to a normal rhythm.

ICD placement may be recommended by a cardiologist for people with a history of certain abnormal heart rhythms and other heart conditions that have high risk for a dangerous heart rhythm. These may include some cases of cardiomyopathy and heart failure.

Are doctors with more experience in placing the ICDs better for patients? That's what Sana Al-Khatib, MD, MHS, FACC, and colleagues asked.

In Al-Khatib's study, patients were less likely to have mechanical problems with their ICDs or infections if their doctors did a lot of ICD implantations.

The study appears in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Impact on Patients

The study tracked more than 9,800 Medicare patients for three months after getting an ICD between 1999 and 2001. Patients' doctors implanted on average 1 to 87 ICDs per year.

Patient survival was similar among all patients. But the results differed for mechanical problems and infections.

Patients of doctors who did the fewest ICD implantations per year were more likely to have infections or ICD mechanical problems within three months, the study shows.

Doctors' Experience Counted

"This association suggests that ICD implantation should not be performed by physicians without regard to their procedural volume," write the researchers.

In other words, it might be a good idea to check how often your doctor implants ICDs before getting the procedure.

The study noted how many ICD implantations doctors did each year -- not how many ICDs they'd implanted during their entire career.

The study only included Medicare patients. Medicare patients are "older and are more prone to complications," so the results might not apply to non-Medicare patients, write the researchers.

"However, there is little reason to believe that volume would be less important in younger patients," they add.

Al-Khatib works at the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, N.C. She receives research funding from ICD makers Medtronic and Guidant, states the journal.

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
empty football helmet
red wine
eating blueberries
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Inside A Heart Attack
Omega 3 Sources
Salt Shockers
lowering blood pressure