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What can I Expect During Defibrillator Surgery?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 07 December 2016
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Defibrillator surgery is sometimes performed on patients who have heart problems and have an increased chance of developing sudden cardiac arrest. During defibrillator surgery, a device known as an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator, or ICD, is placed into the chest of the patient. Most patients only need to stay overnight in the hospital, and complete recovery typically takes between six and eight weeks.

Before a patient undergoes defibrillator surgery, it is important to understand what is involved in the procedure. The ICD that will be implanted is made of three separate parts. The first part is called a pulse generator. This generator is often described as being roughly the size of a large cookie. The pulse generator contains a battery as well as electrical circuits that work to read the electrical activity occurring in the heart.

Electrodes are the second part of the ICD. These are wires that travel to the heart through the veins in order to connect the remainder of the implanted device to the heart. The final part of the ICD is a built-in pacemaker that will help to regulate heartbeat if it becomes too fast or too slow.

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During defibrillator surgery, the patient is usually awake. A local medication will be used so that no pain is felt during the procedure. An incision will then be made in the skin underneath the collarbone so that a space can be created under the muscle tissue for the ICD generator. This generator is normally placed close to the left shoulder.

In the next portion of the defibrillator surgery, a specialized type of x-ray machine will be used so that the surgeon can see clearly inside the chest. The electrode is then carefully placed into a vein and then into the heart. The electrodes are then connected to the pacemaker and the generator. This entire procedure typically takes between two and three hours.

Once the defibrillator surgery has been completed, the patient is usually monitored in the hospital overnight to make sure there are no complications such as blood clots or allergic reactions to the medications that were used during surgery. The patient will be issued a card that will contain emergency information, and this card should be carried at all times. Regular doctor visits are vital to make sure that everything continues to work properly following the defibrillator surgery. Occasionally additional surgeries may be required if there are complications, although this is quite rare.

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