Implantable Cardio Defibrillator

Implantable Cardio Defibrillator (ICD)

What is it?

A defibrillator is a device that sends an electric shock through the heart muscle to restore a normal heartbeat. An implantable cardio defibrillator, or ICD, is a small titanium device.

How does it work?

The implantable cardiodefibrillator is an electronic device placed in the body to help people who have arrhythmias. The implantable cardiodefibrillator consists of a generator and a system of leads, or wires, which connects the generator to the heart. This device is smaller than a cigarette lighter and contains a tiny computer and a battery. The implantable cardiodefibrillator is placed under the collarbone and the wire lead runs through a vein and into the heart, and the device tracks the heart's rhythm, activating when needed. The implantable cardiodefibrillator can:

  • Keep track of heart rhythms
  • Send out electrical pulses and shocks when needed
  • Record heart rhythm and the pulses and shocks the defibrillation device sends out

Reasons for Implantable Cardio Defibrillator

Many who have survived a cardiac arrest and people who have arrhythmias, or are at high risk of developing arrhythmias are generally considered candidates for implantable cardiodefibrillator. An implantable cardiodefibrillator can help a person's heartbeat return to normal by doing the following:

  • Antitachycardia pacing
  • Cardioversion
  • Defibrillation
  • Bradycardia pacing

What to Expect

Cardiologists usually perform ICD in a hospital. The procedure can take from one to two hours and is performed while the patient is awake, but under sedation. To ensure the heart is monitored and the defibrillator is working properly, the patient will stay overnight in the hospital. Once home, the patient should avoid strenuous activities and raising the arm above the head on the side of the body that was implanted for a few weeks.

ICD is a relatively simple, low-risk procedure. However, complications can occur, such as:

  • Infection at the incision site
  • Nerve damage at the incision site
  • Blood clots or air bubbles in a vein
  • Tearing of a vein or artery wall
  • Punctured heart or lung
St. Luke's Heart & Vascular