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Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators at Drexel Cardiology

Outline of the Heart

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a device that monitors heart rhythms, and delivers a shock to the heart to restore normal rhythm if a dangerous pattern is detected. Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) are used to treat people who are at risk of sudden death due to a particular kind of heart rhythm disturbance called ventricular tachycardia. This occurs when the lower pumping chambers of the heart beat too quickly, impairing the heart's ability to pump effectively.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator Implant Procedure

Newer implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) can sometimes be implanted using local anesthesia during a one- to two-hour procedure. An intravenous line is started in the hand or arm for the administration of fluids and medications. The upper chest is cleansed and the physician makes a small incision in the area below the collar bone. After the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is inserted into this pocket, it is tested to ensure that it delivers the required therapy.

Recovery after the procedure is rapid. Patients typically leave the hospital within three to four days and quickly resume their usual activities. Prior to discharge, patients receive instructions regarding medications, diet, exercise, and how to spot indications that the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) may need adjustment. After returning home, patients or family members will need to be alert for any signs of infection at the incision site, including redness, swelling, or a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Preparation for the Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator Implant Procedure

Patients may be advised to discontinue certain medications from one to five days before the procedure. Persons with diabetes should consult their doctor regarding how to adjust their medications. Patients should not eat or drink anything after midnight on the evening before the procedure.

Patient Precaution: Electromagnetic Interference

Some security and household devices may interfere with the function of the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). Patients should discuss with their physician which devices to avoid. Also, some medical equipment can damage the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). Patients should inform all healthcare providers about the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) before testing or treatment.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator Specialists

John M. Fontaine, MD
Specialties: Cardiology, Electrophysiology, Ablation, Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator

S. Luke Kusmirek, MD
Specialties: Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Special expertise in complex ablation procedures including atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia ablation

Steven P. Kutalek, MD
Specialties: Cardiology, Lead Extraction, Pacemakers, Defibrillators, Medication Management

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The information on these pages is provided for general information only and should not be used for diagnosis or treatment, or as a substitute for consultation with a physician or health care professional. If you have specific questions or concerns about your health, you should consult your health care professional.

The images being used are for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted is a model.

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