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How a Pacemaker is Installed

written by: Ms Lisa • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 12/27/2010

How is a pacemaker installed? It may surprise you to learn the answer. You may think that it is a major surgery that takes hours and hours. What you will learn in this article is that even though the surgery is serious, it is a routine surgery that is not as elaborate

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    What Is A Pacemaker?

    How is a pacemaker installed? Before we answer the question, we need to understand what a pacemaker is and what types there are. A pacemaker is a small battery-powered apparatus consisting of small wires that deliver a weak impulse to the heart to regulate an inadequate heart rate. This impulse is delivered from the device to the heart only when the heart rate falls below the normal heartbeat rate.

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    What type Of Pacemakers Are there?

    There are two types of pacemakers that are used today. They both perform the function of regulating the heart rate. The two basic pacemakers are:

    • Single-chamber pacemakers These types of pacemakers were designed to stimulate one chamber of the heart at a time, either the ventricle or the atrium chamber.
    • Dual-chamber pacemakers – This type of pacemaker send the electrical impulse to two chambers of the heart at the same time. The ventricle and atrium chamber can be synchronized to simulate the rhythm to the rate of a natural heart rate.

    How Is a Pacemaker Installed When the Single Chamber Type Is Needed?

    The single chamber type pacemaker is attached to either the atrium chamber or the ventricle chamber. The small wires from the pacemaker are attached to whichever chamber needs to be stimulated. The ventricle is the most popular chamber that the pacemaker is attached to. The wires are inserted near your collarbone through a major vein. The surgeon uses an x-ray image to guide the wires to assure that they are in perfect position to secure it to the chamber of the heart. The pulse generator is attached to the other end of the wire.

    How Is a Pacemaker Installed When the Dual-Chamber Type Is Needed?

    The dual type of pacemaker is installed the same way that a single type of pacemaker is however, the dual type wires are attached to both the ventricle and the atrium chambers. The same procedure is performed.

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    What Can I Expect During the Surgery?

    Before the surgery, you will be given a general anesthetic or a local anesthetic. It is not necessary to be put to sleep during the procedure. You will also be given medication to help relax the body and an antibiotic to help prevent infection. The surgeon makes an incision in the left shoulder. This is where the pacemaker is inserted under the skin. The incision creates a small pocket so that the pacemaker can be held in place.

    The physician then uses a fluoroscope to thread the wires to the chamber or chambers of the heart. The wires are passed through a major vein that leads to the chambers. The wires can be threaded though a major leg vein, neck vein or through the chest wall.

    The procedure takes about an hour or up to a few hours depending on what type of pacemaker is installed. This type of surgery is considered a minor surgery, and you would be released from the hospital in one to two days.

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    On A Special Note

    It will be important to follow up with the doctor on a regular basis so that he can monitor the pacemaker to assure that it is functioning properly. He will advise you of what you can or cannot do since you have a pacemaker installed.

    Resources:

    University of Michigan Health System

    National Institutes Of Health

    Mayoclinic.com

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