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Leadless Defibrillator: Subcutaneous Implantable Defibrillator

Approximately 450,000 people in the U.S. succumb to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)—an abrupt loss of heart function—each year. Most episodes are caused by the rapid and/or chaotic activity of the heart known as ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation.

For patients who are at risk of SCA, MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute now offers a new, innovative, leadless defibrillator—the world’s first and only subcutaneous implantable defibrillator (S-ICD).

In cases of life-threatening arrhythmias, a leadless defibrillator shocks the heart to restore normal rhythm. The S-ICD is the first heart defibrillator implanted beneath the skin that does not require wires placed within the heart. It provides reliable defibrillation while leaving the heart’s blood vessels untouched. Since leads (wires) do not have to be inserted into the heart, the S-ICD procedure is much simpler. In addition, the removal or replacement of the device is much easier, and reduces the potential risk for vascular injury and infection.

Patients who might be good candidates for the new leadless defibrillator include:

  • Young patients who want to preserve their blood vessels (or vasculature) for future procedures
  • Patients who are very overweight and will have better outcomes with a defibrillator that sits right below the skin
  • Those patients who have already had prior vascular procedures, making their blood vessels no longer suitable to place leads within them.
  • Patients who are at particularly high risk for blood infections (for example, patients on dialysis or who have indwelling catheters)