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Removal of Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator


What do I need to know about removal of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator?

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) may be removed due to an infection around the device or in the heart tissue.

How do I prepare for ICD removal?

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. He may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. He will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery. Arrange for have someone drive you home and stay with you after the procedure. You will not be able to lift anything heavy for several days after ICD removal. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to work after your procedure.

What will happen during ICD removal?

You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. You may instead be given IV sedation and local anesthesia to numb the surgery area. With local anesthesia, you may still feel pressure or pushing during surgery, but you should not feel any pain. IV sedation will help you relax during the procedure. Your healthcare provider will make an incision in your chest and remove all parts of the ICD. He may remove infected tissue or take a sample to test for the type of germ causing infection. He may also place a drain to allow the infection to heal. He may close the incision with stitches or staples and place a bandage over your incision.

What will happen after ICD removal?

You will be taken to a recovery room where you will rest until you are awake. You will be on a heart monitor. A heart monitor is an EKG that stays on continuously to record your heart's electrical activity. You may be able to leave when you are awake and your pain is controlled or, you may go to a hospital room. You may need to stay on a heart monitor in the hospital until your infection is gone and you can have another ICD placed. You may need special wound care to help your infection heal. You may also need several weeks of IV antibiotic therapy.

What are the risks of ICD removal?

You may bleed more than usual or get a blood clot after surgery. Your heart or blood vessels may be damaged and you may need more surgery. You may also need a wearable cardioverter defibrillator (WCD), or temporary transcutaneous pacing, to prevent a cardiac arrest. A cardiac arrest is when your heart stops beating. You may need to have another ICD placed after your infection is gone.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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