Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator Procedure

Why Might You Need an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)?

An Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) is a device used to monitor and treat dangerous heart rhythms. It’s typically recommended for individuals at risk of life-threatening arrhythmias, such as ventricular tachycardia (VT) or ventricular fibrillation (VF). These conditions can lead to sudden cardiac arrest, where the heart stops beating effectively. An ICD delivers electrical shocks or pacing pulses to restore normal heart rhythm, potentially saving your life in case of an arrhythmia episode.

Before the ICD procedure, your Specialist will provide detailed instructions on preparation. This may include fasting and adjusting medications. The procedure is usually performed in a cardiac catheterization laboratory (Cath lab).

You will receive sedation to help you relax, and the insertion site will be numbed with a local anaesthetic to minimise discomfort. Your heart rate and rhythm will be continuously monitored throughout the procedure.

The leads (thin wires) of the ICD will be inserted into a vein near your collarbone and guided to your heart. Once in place, the leads will be connected to the ICD device, which is then implanted under the skin, usually just below the collarbone.

While ICD implantation is generally safe, there are potential risks, including:


  • Infection at the implantation site
  • Bleeding or bruising
  • Allergic reactions to medications or materials used during the procedure
  • Damage to blood vessels or surrounding structures
  • Rarely, more serious complications such as pneumothorax (collapsed lung) or heart perforation


Your Specialist will take precautions to minimise these risks and monitor you closely for any complications.

After the ICD implantation, you will be monitored in a recovery area to ensure your stability. You may experience some discomfort or swelling at the implantation site, which can be managed with pain medication.

Your Specialist will provide instructions on caring for the implantation site and restrictions on activities, such as avoiding heavy lifting for a period. You’ll also be given information on how to monitor your ICD at home and when to follow up with your healthcare provider for device checks.

It’s essential to attend all follow-up appointments as scheduled to ensure the ICD is functioning correctly and to address any concerns or issues that may arise. With proper care and monitoring, an ICD can significantly reduce the risk of sudden cardiac arrest and improve your overall quality of life.