Implantable defibrillators, often referred to as an Automatic Internal Cardiac Defibrillator (AICD) or internal defibrillators, use electrodes that are surgically inserted into a heart patient’s chest. You may be wondering, “how does an implantable defibrillator work?” Implantable defibrillators are similar to pacemakers. In fact, most implantable defibrillators can duplicate the functions performed by the pacemaker.Browse defibrillator box.
Implantable defibrillators monitor heart rhythm. They can administer shocks if programmed to do so. Most implantable defibrillators are programmed to deliver an unsynchronized shock upon detection of ventricular fibrillation. Keep in mind that the majority of defibrillators are implanted after someone has already experienced at least one heart attack or other serious heart problem.
Some heart attack victims have experienced problems with implantable defibrillators. One such problem is when the defibrillator delivers shocks constantly or at inappropriate times. This problem can usually be corrected fairly easy. In fact, most emergency response personnel are trained in reprogramming or resetting implantable defibrillators.
Another potential complication is infection. If an implantable defibrillator becomes infected, it has to be surgically removed. The patient will be treated with antibiotics until the infection is cleared. It may be as long as two months before another defibrillator is implanted. In the meantime, an external defibrillator will be used until the new internal defibrillator is implanted.
The implantable defibrillator can malfunction. It is a mechanical device so there is the risk of malfunction. Malfunctions cannot always be corrected while the defibrillator remains in the body. Often a new defibrillator is implanted in the place of the malfunctioning defibrillator.
A final potential complication is a recall of the defibrillator. As with pacemakers, this has happened. The entire defibrillator may be recalled or some part of it, which in essence is the same thing for an implantable defibrillator. The implant will have to be surgically removed. As long as the unit did not malfunction in anyway, causing internal damage, another defibrillator can be implanted at the same time the recalled one is removed.