Automatic Cardioverter Defibrillator Implantation

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a small, battery-operated device that monitors the heart’s rhythm and provides appropriate treatment. Most ICDs have both pacemaker and defibrillator functions. If the heart beats too slowly, the ICD can help the heart beat at a normal pace. If the heart begins to beat in a disorganized way, the device provides a shock to restore a normal rhythm. ICD implantation is the surgical insertion of an ICD. Implanted Cardioverter DefibrillatorCopyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Call Your Doctor

    After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

    • You feel a shock
    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
    • Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
    • Cough or severe nausea or vomiting

    These symptoms are medical emergencies. Call for medical help right away if you:

    • Have chest pain or shortness of breath
    • Feel lightheaded and do not feel a shock
    • You are still feeling symptoms after a shock
    • You feel three or more shocks in a row

    In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is a small, battery-operated device that monitors the heart’s rhythm and provides appropriate treatment. Most ICDs have both pacemaker and defibrillator functions. If the heart beats too slowly, the ICD can help the heart beat at a normal pace. If the heart begins to beat in a disorganized way, the device provides a shock to restore a normal rhythm. ICD implantation is the surgical insertion of an ICD.

    Implanted Cardioverter Defibrillator
    Nucleus Image
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Procedure


    Certain heart rhythms are extremely dangerous and can lead to sudden cardiac death or
    cardiac arrest. Some irregular rhythms that may require an ICD implant include:

    • Bradycardia—heart beating too slowly
    • Ventricular tachycardia—heart beating too rapidly
    • Ventricular fibrillation—heart muscle not pumping, but just quivering

    ICDs are implanted in patients who:

    • Have had one or more episodes of serious irregular heart rhythms

    • Have had a
      heart attack
      and are at high risk for
      arrhythmias
    • Have a high risk of dangerous arrhythmias
    • Have a weakened heart muscle
    • Have a high likelihood of developing an arrhythmia

    • Have the condition known as
      hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is an enlarged heart muscle that does not function properly

  • Possible Complications

    If you are planning to have a defibrillator implanted, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

    • Damage to the heart or lungs
    • Damage to blood vessels
    • Infection
    • Bleeding
    • Bruising
    • Inappropriate shocks or device malfunction

    Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

    • Obesity

    • History of
      smoking

    • History of excess
      alcohol consumption
    • Bleeding or blood-clotting problems
    • Use of some medicines
    • Chronic diseases such as diabetes