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Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)

What do ICDs do and why are they implanted? 

An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is a small device that helps people with heart problems. It is placed inside the body during surgery. The ICD does two main things: it monitors the heart all the time, and if it finds a dangerous heart rhythm that may cause cardiac arrest, it first tries to pace the rhythm away and if that is not successful, it gives an electric shock to fix it. The shock is called defibrillation. The ICD can also send small electrical pulses to help control the heart rate. 

ICDs are used for people who have a high risk of dangerous heart rhythms. These rhythms can be life-threatening and cause the heart to stop suddenly. By implanting an ICD, doctors can prevent this from happening and save lives. 

Having an ICD means that the person needs to visit the doctor regularly to make sure everything is working well. The doctor can adjust the settings of the ICD if needed. It’s important to take care of the ICD and follow the doctor’s instructions to stay healthy and safe. 

Why would my doctor recommend a subcutaneous defibrillator over a standard ICD?

A subcutaneous ICD (S-ICD) and a standard ICD are two different types of devices that help people with heart problems. 

The main difference is where they are placed in the body. A standard ICD has wires that go inside the heart, while an S-ICD is put just under the skin, on the left side of the chest. 

The wires in a standard ICD monitor the heart’s electrical activity and give treatment directly to the heart when needed. But an S-ICD has a single wire that stays outside the heart and detects the heart’s signals from there. 

Both types of ICDs can give electrical shocks or send signals to help the heart beat normally. The difference is how they do it. In a standard ICD, the shocks or signals go inside the heart, while in an S-ICD, they go to the outer surface of the heart. 

The choice between a standard ICD and an S-ICD depends on things like the person’s heart condition and body shape. The doctor will recommend which one is best for each person. 

Both types of ICDs are used to help people with heart problems stay healthy and safe. 

What are the risks of defibrillator implant?  

Remember, these risks are not very common, and doctors will do their best to minimize them. It’s essential to talk to your doctor about any concerns you have and ask any questions you may need answers to. 

Why should I have this procedure with South Denver Cardiology? 

Dr. Jehu Mathew, Dr. Ryan Jordan, Dr. Sri Sundaram, Dr. William Choe, Dr. Daniel Alyesh, and Dr. Nicholas Palmeri routinely do this procedure. Our EP providers, who specialize in these devices, perform a significant number of these procedures annually. Our center has consistently maintained a lower rate of complications compared to the averages reported in the literature. 

What happens during the procedure? 

During a defibrillator procedure, here’s what happens in simple terms: 

The doctors and nurses are there to make sure everything goes smoothly and that you stay safe and comfortable throughout the procedure. 

What happens right after the procedure?

After getting a defibrillator, here’s what happens next: 

Remember, everyone’s recovery is different, and it’s important to be patient with yourself. The medical team is there to help you along the way, so don’t hesitate to ask them any questions or let them know if you need anything. 

How will I feel after the procedure?  What is my expected recovery course?

After getting a defibrillator, here’s what happens as you recover: 

Remember, it takes time to recover, so be patient with yourself. If you have any concerns or feel unwell during your recovery, make sure to contact your doctor. They are there to help you and make sure you’re getting better. 

Note on Pre-Op and Post-Op instructions:  The most up-to-date pre- and post-operative instructions will be the ones provided to you during your pre-op visit & on your hospital DC instructions given to you when checking-out of the hospital.

Helpful Resources


Preoperative Instructions

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Postoperative Instructions

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