Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) placement is surgery to put an ICD in your chest. An ICD is a small, battery-powered device that fixes life-threatening changes in your heartbeat. If the ICD detects a life-threatening rapid heart rhythm, it tries to slow the rhythm to get it back to normal. If the dangerous rhythm does not stop, the ICD sends an electric shock to the heart to restore a normal rhythm. The device then goes back to its watchful mode.
Your chest may be sore where the doctor made the cut (incision) and put in the ICD. You also may have a bruise and mild swelling. These symptoms usually get better in 1 to 2 weeks. You may feel a hard ridge along the incision. This usually gets softer in the months after surgery. You probably will be able to see and feel the outline of the ICD under your skin.
You will probably be able to go back to work or your usual routine 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. Your doctor will talk to you about how often you will need to have the ICD checked.
When you have an ICD, it is important to avoid electrical devices that can stop your ICD from working right. Check with your doctor about what you need to stay away from, what you need to use with care, and what is okay to use. You will need to stay away from things with strong magnetic and electrical fields such as MRI machines (unless your ICD is safe for an MRI), welding equipment, and power generators. You can use a cell phone, but keep it at least 15 centimetres away from your ICD. You can safely use most household and office electronics. These include kitchen appliances, electric power tools, and computers.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.
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Current as of: December 6, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & John M. Miller, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
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