Traditional pacemakers are implanted in the upper chest, under the skin, just below the collar bone. During the procedure, a chest incision is made and a lead is guided into the heart. Your doctor connects the lead to the pacemaker and programs the device. The pacemaker is then inserted beneath the skin and your doctor tests the pacemaker to ensure it is working properly. The incision is then closed.
Leadless pacemakers are implanted directly into the heart through a minimally invasive procedure. The device is inserted through a straw-like catheter system into a vein, typically near the upper thigh area of your leg. This moves the device into the right ventricle of the heart. The device is placed against the heart wall and secured with flexible tines. Your doctor tests the device to ensure it’s working properly. Once complete, the catheter system is removed.
Regardless of the device, the procedure to implant a pacemaker does not require open heart surgery, and most people go home within 24 hours. Before the procedure, medication may be given to make you sleepy and comfortable. Generally, the procedure is performed under local anesthesia.
Your doctor will provide these details prior to the procedure. Most people go home within 24 hours, but recovery times will vary by patient. Depending on the type of device, you may also have some post-implant restrictions for the weeks following your procedure. Leadless pacemakers typically have fewer recovery restrictions. If you need a pacemaker, it’s important to talk to your doctor about which option is right for you.
Pace of Mind is a Mended Hearts educational initiative about new leadless pacing options for patients, in collaboration with Medtronic.