What is a Subcutaneous ICD?

A subcutaneous implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) is a type of device used to treat life-threatening heart arrhythmias. Unlike traditional ICDs, which are implanted under the skin of the chest with leads going into the heart through the veins, a subcutaneous ICD is implanted under the skin of the left side of the chest, and the leads are placed outside the ribcage.

Who is it for?

Subcutaneous ICDs are recommended for patients who are at risk of sudden cardiac arrest due to certain types of arrhythmias. They may be recommended for patients who have a history of heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, problems with an existing ICD system leads or other risk factors for sudden cardiac arrest. These patients maybe unable to have a traditional ICD system due to other factors including abnormal heart veins into the heart.

What to expect on the day?

Subcutaneous ICD implantation is performed under general anaesthesia in a hospital setting. The procedure typically takes 1-2 hours.

During the procedure, the cardiologist will make an incision on the left side of the chest and implant the subcutaneous ICD under the skin and between the muscle. The cardiologist will then attach one electrode wire to the device and tunnel it over the sternum, and program the device to monitor the heart rhythm and deliver a shock if necessary.

After the procedure, you will be monitored for a short period of time to ensure that there are no complications, such as bleeding. You may need to stay overnight in the hospital for observation, but can usually go home the following day.

Subcutaneous ICD implantation is a safe and effective way to treat certain types of life-threatening arrhythmias.