Some people are in danger of developing a dangerously fast or irregular heart rhythm that can lead to death within minutes.
An implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD, is a device that can detect abnormal heart rhythms and then shock your heart back to its normal pace. ICDs have saved many people from sudden cardiac death.
ICDs are surgically implanted by an electrophysiologist, a doctor who specializes in heart rhythm disorders.
During the procedure you’ll be given medication through an intravenous (IV) to help you relax, but you’ll remain awake while the defibrillator is being implanted. You’re also given an anesthetic to numb the skin at the site of the incision. Your heart rate and blood pressure are monitored throughout the procedure.
An incision is made just under your left collarbone. The leads (wires) from the ICD are directed down veins until they make contact with your heart. The generator of the ICD is then placed beneath your skin.
This surgery typically takes between two and four hours.
Once in place, if the ICD detects an abnormal heart rhythm the generator will provide an electrical shock that travels down the leads to your heart. This shock will restore your heart to its regular rhythm.
Complications from the placement of an ICD are rare but, they include the following:
UR Medicine has been one of the world's leaders in the development of ICDs and their use to treat heart rhythm disorders. Our team of researchers have set the standards for all doctors to treat patients with defibrillators.
UR Medicine researcher Arthur Moss, M.D. is the leader of the world-famous MADIT clinical trials that helped establish ICDs as an effective treatment for patients who are in danger of sudden cardiac death. Dr. Moss is also recognized for his work in using ICDs to treat patients with long QT syndrome, a deadly heart rhythm disorder.
UR Medicine has three fully-equipped electrophysiology labs for the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. Our labs are staffed by nurses and technicians who work exclusively with patients who have heart rhythm disorders.
The Electrophysiology Lab at UR Medicine performs thousands of cases every year.