Why it’s performed
A pacemaker is inserted to control a person’s heart rhythms. Normally patients who suffer a heart attack are advised to get a pacemaker inserted, particularly as a result of developing an abnormally slow heartbeat, a condition also known as bradycardia.
Before we insert a pacemaker, Dr Abelson runs a few tests such as an electrocardiogram (ECG), Holter monitoring, echocardiogram and stress test to assess the heart's function, including its rhythm.
Before surgery, a sedative is injected into an intravenous line to help you relax. Local anaesthesia is typically used over the chest to help numb the area where the incisions will be made.
A pacemaker is implanted in a sterile theatre environment mostly via a small incision below the left clavicle (right side also possible if suits patient more). It is performed using local anaesthetic only. Wires (leads) are manipulated into the heart chambers that require pacing, secured into position and then attached to the pacemaker generator. This is then buried under the skin, and soft tissue in a "pocket" before the wound is closed with sutures. The procedure generally takes less than one hour, and patients can be discharged either the same day or the following day.
No, inserting a pacemaker does not require an open procedure. Usually, you can return home the same day of pacemaker surgery. Prior to surgery, you are given medication to help you sleep. Then, a local anaesthetic is used.