Permanent Pacemaker Implant Surgery – PreOp®  Patient Education

Permanent Pacemaker Implant Surgery – PreOp® Patient Education


Your doctor has recommended that you receive
a permanent pacemaker implanted in your body. But what does that actually mean? The heart is located in the center of the
chest, enclosed by the breast bone and rib cage. By contracting in a rhythmic way, it causes
the blood in your body to circulate. A normally functioning heart beats at a rate
of between 60 and 100 contractions per minute. These contractions are triggered by a small
piece of heart tissue called the SA node. The SA node generates a small electrical signal
that is transmitted by nerves to the surrounding muscle. These electrical impulses are what cause the
heart muscle to contract. In some people, the SA node fails to cause
the heart to contract with its normal rhythm, causing an abnormal heartbeat or arrhythmia. The most common form of arrhythmia, for which
pacemaker surgery is often recommended, is bradyarrythymia – or slow heart rate. There are a number of reasons why you may
have developed an arrhythmia, but in most cases the problem is caused by a disruption
in the SA node or in the system of nerves that conducts electrical signals to the heart
muscle. A pacemaker is a device that is designed to
provide an electrical signal to the heart muscle and to help it maintain a proper rhythm. There are several types of pacemakers and
the particular model selected for you will be based on your specific condition. But all pacemakers share a common design. Your pacemaker will consist of two major pieces
. . . a small metal box that contains a battery and other electronic components and an insulated
wire, called a lead, which will carry the electrical impulses from the pacemaker to
the heart. Your pacemaker will be permanently implanted
in your chest and, depending on your condition, either one or two leads will be attached to
the heart muscle. Then the surgeon will make a small skin incision
in the upper chest, just below the collarbone. A pocket is then created between the skin
and the tissue that covers the chest muscle. Next, the team will use instruments called
retractors to hold back the skin and underlying tissue. They’ll locate a large blood vessel called
the subclavian vein. Using a special needle and syringe, your doctor
will puncture the wall of the vein. A thin guide wire is then inserted through
the needle and into the vein. Your doctor gently pushes the wire until it
reaches the heart. Using an instrument called a fluoroscope the
surgical team is able to see the wire’s progress through the vein and into the beating heart. Once the wire is in place, the needle is removed
and a catheter – or hollow tube – is passed over the guide wire and into the heart. One or two leads are then passed through the
catheter. When the lead or leads are in their proper
position, the catheter is removed. Finally, the lead is connected to the pacemaker,
the pacemaker is inserted into the pocket below the collar bone and the incision is
closed.

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