Defibrillator Implantation


ICD Insertion Risks

Procedural risks of ICD implantation are summarised below:

  • All patients will be left with a scar and an ICD (which can usually be felt) under the skin.
  • Most patients will have some initial bruising. If you are taking aspirin, clopidogrel, warfarin or other "blood thinners" the bruising may be significant.
  • 1 in 40 - The ICD leads can move after the procedure - this may require a repeat procedure to fix the problem.
  • 1 in 100 - An infection may arise at the ICD site. This is a difficult problem to treat and may require the ICD to be removed.
  • 1 in 100 - A lung may collapse. This may require the insertion of a tube to reinflate the lung.
  • 1 in 200 - A blood clot may form in the subclavian vein. This is the vein that the leads go through to get to the heart.
  • 1 in 1000 - The leads may puncture the heart muscle, giving rise to cardiac tamponade; which may be fatal.
  • 1 in 1000 - A blood clot can form in the legs and go to the lungs. This may be fatal.
  • Rare - It is possible although rare to have a life threatening allergic reaction to a medication, a stroke, heart attack or die as a result of an ICD insertion.

Obviously every effort is made to minimise the risks of the procedure and you should be aware that emergency equipment is available to deal with any complications that occur.

It is important to understand that these are average risks. Your individual risk may be higher or lower depending on a number of factors such as your age and general health. Your cardiologist knows these risks and has considered them before recommending that you undergo an ICD implantation.

  • Professor Sanders says...

    Atrial fibrillation is a consequence of several reversible risk factors - high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, sleep apnoea, and excessive alcohol. Your management of atrial fibrillation must include strict control of these risk factors.