What can we expect when moving an automated implantable cardioverter-defibrillator from the abdomen?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My husband has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and has had a defibrillator for more than 20 years. He goes into the hospital this week for yet another replacement. This time though they are going to remove the device from his abdomen and implant near his clavicle. They plan to leave the old leads in since they've been there so long. I wish this procedure it easier but scares me to death ever time. Any words of advise for this upcoming procedure.

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Don't worry! The new defibrillators are very similar to pacemakers, so they are easier than ever to implant. The device is usually placed in the upper left chest, just under the skin and outside the ribcage. It is inserted through a small incision, typically about 4 centimeters across. Once the device is placed, a lead is pushed through the incision into a nearby vein, then guided to the heart with the aid of the fluoroscopy machine. The tip of the lead is attached to the heart muscle itself, which is painless.

This procedure usually requires conscious sedation, meaning that they just give you a medication that makes you drowsy. He will be home in 24 hours, good as new. Good luck!