LIJ Implants New Defibrillator that Protects Against Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Electrophysiologists at LIJ Medical Center have recently started implanting a new heart device to treat patients’ dangerously rapid heartbeats without touching their heart or blood vessels.

The Boston Scientific device, known as a subcutaneous implantable cardiac defibrillator, or S-ICD, protects against cardiac arrest.  Unlike a traditional defibrillator, which involves insulated electrical wires that run through a vein into the heart and across the heart valve, the S-ICD is placed outside the patient’s rib cage and no wires are placed inside the patient’s heart or blood vessels.  With the absence of wires in this area, there is less risk of infection to the heart and its structures or other complications if the wires need to be removed.

“The novel device is transforming the way we treat patients with arrhythmias and weakened heart muscles because we can offer an alternative procedure that reduces the risk of infection to the heart and its vessels and still provide protection against cardiac arrest,” said Apoor Patel, MD, director of complex ablations at LIJ.  “The advantage of the S-ICD is that the heart remains untouched and the device is easier to implant under the skin, making it simpler to remove in the future.” 

In making the new defibrillator procedure available at LIJ, Dr. Patel closely worked with Bruce Goldner, MD, director of electrophysiology, David Slotwiner, MD, associate director of electrophysiology, and an experienced team of medical professionals.  Dr. Goldner noted that the new device would be suitable for a group of people who may not tolerate the standard ICD procedure. 

“The less invasive device offers an alternative for patients who otherwise could not have an implantable defibrillator because of poor vein access, such as some dialysis patients.  For young patients with inherited arrhythmias who are expected to live many years, the subcutaneous defibrillator may be advantageous because over the lifetime of a patient, a fractured subcutaneous lead is much safer to remove than an internal defibrillator.   Patients who had previously undergone valve replacement surgery might be better served with a subcutaneous ICD because an infected subcutaneous ICD is less likely to lead to a blood infection that could lead to infection of the valves than an internal ICD,” said Dr. Goldner. 

The Boston Scientific device is the world’s first and only commercially available S-ICD system.  It comprises a battery-powered pulse generator to monitor heart activity and an electrode that enables the device to sense the cardiac rhythm and deliver electrical impulses.  Any patient who needs a defibrillator who does not also require a pacemaker for a slow pulse can benefit from the S-ICD. 

Sudden cardiac arrest is an abrupt loss of heart functioning – a life-threatening condition – caused by rapid and/or chaotic heart activity (called ventricular tachycardia or ventrical fibrillation).  Recent estimates show that approximately 850,000 people in the US are at risk of sudden cardiac arrests and need an implantable cardiac defibrillator, but remain unprotected.

For more information, please contact the LIJ’s Department of Cardiology at

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