Implantable Cardioverter Defibrilator (ICD)

An Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) is an electronic device which continuously monitors your heart rhythm. It is programmed to detect abnormally fast or slow heart rhythms.

If the heart rhythm is too fast, the ICD gives a series of fast pace pulses or a low energy shock to the heart to restore it to a normal rhythm. If the heart beat becomes too slow, a back-up Pacemaker in the ICD activates to prevent the rate from dropping too low.

The Procedure

This procedure usually takes 60 - 90 minutes to perform.

  • General anaesthesia or conscious sedation will be used.
  • A local anaesthetic is given to numb the skin.
  • The ICD is implanted under the skin, usually near the collar bone.
  • The leads are placed in position using x-ray and measurements to confirm their positioning is correct.
  •  One end of the leads are secured to your heart and the other to the device.

The ICD will be tested and programmed to treat your specific heart rhythm irregularity. This will take place under anaesthesia as it involves putting your heart into a rapid, disorganised rhythm. Your heart may need to be shocked to correct the abnormal rhythm. Following a shock, adjustments may need to be made to the positioning of the leads or placement of additional leads. 

Following The Procedure

  • Bed rest is recommended until the following morning.
  • You will wear a sling on your arm for the following night to prevent excessive shoulder movements which can dislodge the leads. 
  • A chest x-ray and ICD check are generally performed the following day prior to discharge.
  • A course of antibiotics is usually prescribed for 2 - 3 days
  • You may remove the dressing over the wound site 3 days after the procedure.

If you notice significant swelling or discharge at your ICD site or have a fever, please contact Cardiology Department/General Enquiries at 1800 200 550 during working hours.

Outside working hours please call 01 885 8888 and ask for the ‘Nurse on the House’ who will discuss the issue with you and contact the Cardiologist on call.