Results vsrisks of surgery

Like all surgeries, pacemaker and defibrillator surgery comes with certain risks.

Results

Most people make a quick recovery after implantation of a pacemaker or defibrillator and can return to their normal activities, with a few precautions.

Risks

Complications occur in 2-4% of patients. They can occur during surgery, after surgery, or even years later.

At the time of surgery

  • Bleeding in your chest, around your lung or into the tissues around the pacemaker 
  • Punctured lung resulting in a collapsed lung, possibly requiring surgery to insert a drain to re-expand it
  • Cardiac perforation causing bleeding into your pericardium (sac around the heart), requiring urgent draining of the blood
  • Adverse reactions to medications given at the time of surgery
  • Dislodged device leads, which may require further surgery to reposition them

Soon after surgery

  • Infection, which may require antibiotics or removal of the device
  • Pericarditis (inflammation or irritation of the outer lining of the heart). This may cause pain and a build up of fluid around your heart
  • Electrical malfunction – usually fixed by reprogramming the computer in the device
  • Abnormal heart rhythms caused by the leads in your heart
  • Dislodged device leads, which may require further surgery to reposition them

Months to years after surgery

  • Infection in the area around your device
  • Lead or device malfunctions which may be correctable by reprogramming. If not, you’ll need repeat surgery to install a new generator or lead
  • Pericarditis (inflammation or irritation of the outer lining of the heart). This may cause pain and a build up of fluid around your heart
  • Dysfunction of the tricuspid valve (the valve between the right and left side of the heart), which the device lead passes through
  • If you have an implantable defibrillator it may emit a shock if you experience a ventricular arrhythmia. Sometimes it may emit a shock because it detects an atrial arrhythmia, an abnormality which affects one of the two upper chambers of the heart. If this happens, further therapy is often needed.

Ask your cardiologist about the results and risks associated with your surgery. Also ask about the rate of complications following the surgeries they’ve performed. 

Choosing a specialist

How to find a surgeon who specialises in your procedure.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.