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What risks are associated with the defibrillator implant procedure?

An ICD implant procedure may cause bleeding, pain, and infection at the incision site.

Defibrillator implants are extremely efficient and generally safe. However, it is possible to experience complications with your implantable cardioverter defibrillator system. ICD complications can be surgical complications and post-surgical complications.

Surgical risks and complications

The risk of having any of these complications is very low (2-3%), most of the time these are minor complications which can be easily treated. The risk of actually dying from a defibrillator implant procedure is very low (below 1%). The defibrillator implant procedure usually can be done without any problems. The main risks related to the defibrillator implant procedure include:

  • bleeding
  • pneumothorax
  • infection
  • damage to a blood vessel
  • damage to the heart

Each time your ICD generator needs to be replaced (6-10 years), you will be exposed to these surgical risks. The risks from the replacement surgery are generally lower than for the initial surgery.

Post-surgery risk and complications

After your surgery, when you are completely healed, you will be able to return to your normal life. However, there is still a small risk of developing post-surgery complications. Post-surgery complications of the defibrillator implant procedure include:

  • lead complications or lead fracture
  • movement of the defibrillator implant out of its proper position (this can cause bleeding, pain or skin erosion
  • inappropriate shocks causing pain
  • psychological trauma caused by the device that shocks your heart unnecessarily
  • defibrillator implant malfunction
Disclaimer: We do not assume responsibility for the use of the provided information or its interpretation. Our efforts are towards providing current and reliable information; however these should not be considered, or used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.

Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/