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Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator


Definition:

An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is a device that detects any life-threatening, rapid heartbeat. If such a heartbeat, called an arrhythmia, occurs, the ICD quickly sends an electrical shock to the heart to change the rhythm back to normal. This is called defibrillation.

Alternative Names:

ICD; Defibrillation

Risks:

Risks for any surgery are:

Possible risks for this surgery are:

  • Wound infection
  • Injury to your heart or lungs
  • Dangerous heart arrhythmias

An ICD sometimes delivers shocks to your heart when you do not need them. Even though a shock lasts a very short time, you can usually feel it.

This and other ICD problems can sometimes be prevented by changing how your ICD is programmed. It can also be set to sound an alert if there is a problem. Your electrophysiologist, the doctor who manages your ICD care, can program your device.

Before the Procedure:

Always tell your doctor or nurse what drugs you are taking, even drugs or herbs you bought without a prescription.

The day before your surgery:

  • Always let your doctor know about any cold, flu, fever, herpes breakout, or other illness you might have.
  • Shower and shampoo well. You may be asked to wash your whole body below your neck with a special soap.
  • You may also be asked to take an antibiotic, to guard against infection.

On the day of the surgery:

  • You will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything after midnight the night before your surgery. This includes chewing gum and using breath mints. Rinse your mouth with water if it feels dry, but be careful not to swallow.
  • Take your drugs your doctor told you to take with just a small sip of water.

Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.

After the Procedure:

Most people who have an ICD implanted are able to go home from the hospital in 1 day. Most quickly return to their normal activity level. Full recovery takes about 4 to 6 weeks.

When you leave the hospital, you will be given a card to keep in your wallet. This card lists the details of your ICD and has contact information for emergencies. You should always carry this wallet card with you.

You will need to make regular visits to the doctor so your ICD can be monitored. The doctor will check to see if the device is properly sensing your heartbeat, how many shocks have been delivered, and how much power is left in the batteries.

Outlook (Prognosis):

Your ICD will constantly monitor your heartbeats to make sure they are steady. It will deliver a shock to the heart when it senses a life-threatening rhythm. This device can also work as a pacemaker.

References:

Epstein, A E, DiMarco, J P, Ellenbogen, K A, Estes, N A, 3rd, Freedman, R A, Gettes, L S, et al. (2008). "ACC/AHA/HRS 2008 Guidelines for Device-Based Therapy of Cardiac Rhythm Abnormalities: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines (Writing Committee to Revise the ACC/AHA/NASPE 2002 Guideline Update for Implantation of Cardiac Pacemakers and Antiarrhythmia Devices): developed in collaboration with the American Association for Thoracic Surgery and Society of Thoracic Surgeons." Circulation;117(21): e350-408.

Hayes DL, Zipes DP. Cardiac pacemakers and cardioverter-defibrillators. In: Libby P, Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 34.


Review Date: 10/8/2012
Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, Washington Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, and Stephanie Slon.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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