Stanford Cardiac Arrhythmia Service

Implanting the ICD

Two electrophysiologists implant the ICD in a procedure performed in the cardiac catheterization laboratory. Your physician will discuss the implantation with you prior to the procedure. Once you’ve had any questions answered, you’ll be required to sign an informed consent form. You won’t be able to eat or drink for eight hours prior to your surgery.

You’ll be placed under the care of an anesthesiologist, who will give you medication to help you relax during the procedure. A local anesthetic will be given at the site of the ICD implant, usually beneath the skin on the left side of the upper chest. After the area is numb, the physician will make a three-inch incision to create a “pocket” or space for the generator.

The lead system will be placed in your heart through a vein in your upper chest and guided into position with the assistance of fluoroscopy (X-ray).

Once the lead is secured in place, it’s attached to the generator. While you’re asleep, the device is programmed and tested to be certain that it treats your fast arrhythmia. The three-inch incision will then be sutured and a dressing will be placed over it. The entire procedure will last from two to four hours.

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