Lead Extraction

What is a Cardiac Lead?

Lead Extraction

A cardiac lead is a flexible wire, coated with insulation that connects a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator generator (ICD) to the interior of the heart.

What is Cardiac Lead Removal? Why do Cardiac Leads need to be taken out?
Cardiac Lead Removal is the extraction of one or more leads. Your doctor may have determined that your lead(s) should be removed for one of the following reasons:

  • The lead is damaged The lead requires more energy to function than the device (pacemaker or ICD) is able to deliver
  • There is an infection at the implant site of the lead
  • The lead is interfering with blood flow back to the heart
  • The lead is interfering with other leads or may interfere with new lead(s) that need to be placed in your heart

How is Cardiac Lead Removal performed?

An incision is made in the upper chest over the existing pacemaker/ICD. This is usually at the same site where the incision was made when the device (pacemaker or ICD) was implanted. A special sheath (tube) is placed over the lead to be removed and threaded down into the heart to the tip of the lead. The sheath helps to free the lead from any scar tissue that may be holding it in place. The lead is then removed by gently pulling it out through the sheath. Frequently the doctor will use a sheath attached to a laser (a Laser Sheath) to remove scar tissue holding the lead in place where it is attached to a vein or heart tissue.

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