The ICD consists of three parts:
- GENERATOR: located in the main box of the ICD, battery powered, 2 inches
wide, 3 ounces; responsible for generating the electric shock
- LEADS: silicon/polyurethane insulated platinum wires; carry the
electric shock from the generator to the heart
- ELECTRODES: located at the tip of each Lead; deliver electric shock to the
heart; leads can be placed on two of the four chambers of the
heart (atria and ventricles) in a variety of combinations
depending on the needs of the patient.
ICD implantation is considered an invasive treatment option (minor surgery). A small incision is
made in the chest wall just below the collarbone. A second incision is made in the vein just under the
collarbone. The ICD Leads are inserted through the vein and attached to the inner surface of the heart.
The Leads are also attached to the Generator which is inserted into the tissue under the collarbone and
above the breast. The ICD is then tested and the incisions are closed by sutures, staples, or surgical glue.
The entire procedure takes about an hour.
Depending on the patient's age and overall health, a short stay in the hospital is usually required
following ICD insertion. In general, patients may be instructed not to bathe or shower for at least five
days after the procedure as well as avoid contact sports, heavy lifting or vigorous exercise for several
weeks to avoid dislodging the Leads. A follow-up visit at the physician's office is usually scheduled for
two weeks after the surgery. If there are no complications, complete recovery from the procedure will
take about four weeks.
Since the battery of the ICD is sealed within the main box of the ICD, the entire box must be
replaced when the battery is low (usually every seven years, depending on how often an electric shock is