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Pacemaker Implantation

A pacemaker is a matchbox-sized device that sends small electrical impulses to the heart muscle to maintain a suitable heart rate or to stimulate the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles). Someone may need a pacemaker surgically implanted when problems occur with the electrical conduction system of the heart. 

Conditions Treated 

There are various heart rate and rhythm problems that might warrant a pacemaker implantation surgery. Some common examples include: 

  • Bradycardia, a slower than normal heart rate 
  • Tachy-brady syndrome, alternating fast and slow heartbeats 
  • Heart block, when the electrical signals are delayed or blocked 

Pacemakers are also used to treat syncope (unexplained fainting spells), heart failure and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. 

Procedure Details

To insert a pacemaker, a physician will make a small incision just below the collarbone. A sheath (plastic tube) is inserted into a blood vessel and advanced into the heart. The pacer lead wire is then inserted through the sheath and led into the heart. The other end of the lead wire is attached to the pacemaker generator and then it is slipped under the skin through the incision and placed on the patient’s non-dominant side. 

What to Expect 

A pacemaker implantation is generally a safe procedure. However, as with any invasive procedure, there are possible risks. The risks associated with a pacemaker include: 

  • Bleeding from the incision or catheter insertion site 
  • Damage to the vessel at the catheter insertion site 
  • Infection of the incision or catheter insertion site 
  • Pneumothorax (a collapsed lung) 

Effectiveness 

Pacemakers can often eliminate the symptoms of irregular heartbeats such as fatigue and shortness of breath. However, a pacemaker is not a cure for heart disease, nor will it prevent heart attacks. 

The implantation procedure itself is generally well received, especially when performed by the cardiac electrophysiologists of Tampa General Hospital’s Heart and Vascular Institute. Our experts have experience performing many complex cardiac surgeries, including pacemaker implantation.