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Pacemaker Insertion

Pacemaker insertion

What is a Permanent Pacemaker?

A pacemaker is a small electronic device that helps regulate slow electrical problems in the heart. It is usually implanted in the chest, just below the collarbone. A pacemaker may be recommended to keep the heartbeat from slowing to a dangerously low rate. The device is made of three parts: a pulse generator, one or more leads, and an electrode on each lead.  pacemaker signals the heart to beat when the natural heartbeat is too slow or irregular.

Some examples of heart rate and rhythm problems for which a pacemaker might be inserted include:

  • Bradycardia (when the heart beats too slowly)
  • Tachy-brady syndrome (alternating fast and slow heartbeats)
  • Heart block (a delayed or blocked electrical signal as it travels through the heart muscle)

What can I expect during the procedure?

Insertion of a pacemaker can be done on an outpatient basis or as part of a hospital stay. The patient receives a sedative through an IV, but stays awake during the procedure. The physician makes a small incision at the insertion site, usually under the collarbone. A sheath, or introducer, is then put into a large blood vessel. The lead wire is threaded through the introducer, into the blood vessel and through the heart. Fluoroscopy may be used to help check the location of the leads. The pacemaker generator is slipped under the patient’s skin through the incision after the lead wire is attached to it. After the pacemaker is tested to ensure everything is working correctly, the incision is closed. Under the careful watch of a physician, the patient is able to resume a normal daily routine within a few days. Follow-up appointments are arranged with the patient to continue to track the pacemaker and its functionality.