Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)
What is an ICD?
An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a small device that is implanted under the skin and connected to your heart. Depending on the type of arrhythmia, 1 or 2 wires are connected to the heart.
Once the device has been implanted, the ICD communicates permanently with the heart. In the event of a disturbance, it responds and sends the appropriate electric signal to the heart. The ICD also functions as a pacemaker by continuously monitoring the heart rhythm and sending a pulse whenever it slows down.
A working ICD carefully stores all information relating to the heart function. These data are easily read via a programmable device.
How is an ICD implanted?
- The operation is performed under general anaesthetic and last no more than an hour and a half.
- You are lying on an operating table specially equipped to take X-rays during the operations, which enables the surgeon to check the position of the connecting wires on a screen.
- The doctor or nurse sticks ECG electrodes on your chest to record electrical activity in your heart.
- You are then covered with sterile sheets and the anaesthetist induces sleep.
- The device and electrodes are implanted through a small cut under the collarbone. The electrode location is essential to the operation of the device, as:
- The device must supply accurate information concerning heart activity.
- The electrical pulses must be delivered to the best (most easily stimulated) location(s).
- Before the doctor connects the wires with the device, he or she will take a number of measurements. Once they are connected, the doctor will trigger a rhythm disturbance and check the subsequent electrical stimulation.
After the operation, you will have regular check-ups to monitor battery operation. The average maximum battery life is 8 to 10 years.