All you need to know about your upcoming Pacemaker Surgery

If you’re undergoing pacemaker surgery you will no doubt be feeling apprehensive as to what to expect. This article will outline exactly what you can expect from your pacemaker surgery.

So you’ve been told by your physician that you need a pacemaker? People who require pacemakers do so for a variety of reasons. Simply put, your heart rate goes to slow or it doesn’t increase in rate when you need it to– ie when you walk or do any exercise. A pacemaker will stop your heart rate going to slow and will also be able to artificially increase your heart rate when you need it. Pacemaker surgery will usually consist of an overnight stay in hospital. When you go to the hospital, remember to take all your medications as many hospital staff will ask what you take. There may be other people in the hospital who are getting a pacemaker on the same day as you so you will most likely be in a queue or on a ‘list’ of pacemaker surgery for the day.The staff may be unable to give you an accurate time of your procedure as the operations before you may take longer or shorter than expected so try to wait patientily and keep yourself busy with a good book or watch some tv.

Before long you will be wheeled in and transferred from your hospital bed to a narrow operating table. The area where you pacemaker is to be inserted (usually the upper left area of your chest) will be shaved before the procedure (if youre a male!). You will have many dots and stickers placed on your body for monitoring purposes and for the machines that will be used during the procedure. You will be wearing a surgical hat to help the cleanliness of the environment of the lab also. During the preparation of the procedure you may be given sedation to help you relax. Many patients will fall asleep at this time which will make everything go very fast indeed! Antibiotics will be administered to limit the chance of infection also.

You will then be covered in a sterile drape and your upper left portion of you chest will be washed with an antiseptic solution. The Doctor will inject local anaesthetic where the incision will be made to numb the area. Next he/she will make a small cut wide enough to allow a pacemaker to fit inside. A vein is located near your collar bone and the Doctor will locate it and commence the act of putting the pacemaker leads into this vein.

Depending on your heart condition, you may require one, two or three pacing leads. These leads pass down the vein and into the heart. The Doctor will use screening x-rays so that he/she can put the leads into the appropriate postion in the heart. The leads are then attached to an external machine and tested. When the Doctor is happy with the testing, the leads are secured to the vein and finally the pacemaker is attached to the leads. This pacemaker surgery from start to finish should take no more than an hour but if there is any trouble inserting the leads, it may take longer.

Finally, the incision will be sutured together and a patch will go over the site. Be sure not to do any vigourous movments of your shoulder or arm and try not to do any heavy lifting or above shoulder height movements for at least a month. This will minimise the chance of the leads moving and requiring repositioning. Your pacemaker will be checked the next day and you may also have other tests such as an x-ray. If all is well, you should be discharged and then look forward to a healthy and happy life and maybe one with increased amounts of energy more than what you’ve been recently accustomed to!