Mercy Medical Centers surgical services team offers implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) for people who have life-threatening rapid heart rhythms. An ICD is a small electronic device that is surgically implanted into the body to continuously monitor a patients heart rate and rhythm.
When it detects a very fast, abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia), the ICD delivers electrical impulses to the heart muscle to restore normal rhythm. The ICD detects arrhythmias and delivers electrical therapy pacing pulses or defibrillation therapy as necessary. When not needed, the ICD monitors the heart without delivering any electrical energy.
Patients who may need an ICD are those who have experienced cardiac arrest or who have a heart rhythm problem that could lead to cardiac arrest. The two most common forms of rapid heart rhythm are ventricular tachycardia (VT) and ventricular fibrillation (VF). Both are most often caused by scar tissue on the heart from a previous heart attack or heart failure.
Implanting an ICD is a relatively simple procedure that can offer a more active lifestyle and peace of mind. In most cases, the ICD can be implanted through a minor surgical procedure under local anesthesia. Prior to surgery, routine blood tests and an ECG will be done. The device is usually implanted in the upper chest near the left shoulder but is occasionally placed under the skin in the abdomen. The procedure usually takes one to two hours plus pre-surgical testing and recovery time. Most people resume normal activities within a few days of receiving an ICD. For more information or to answer any questions or concerns, please speak to your primary care physician or cardiologist.