Although implanting a pacemaker is considered a minor procedure, you will have pre-operative guidelines to follow. Your doctor will provide specific instructions regarding eating and drinking prior to your procedure.
They may also recommend that you stop taking certain medications, like aspirin, which can thin the blood, several hours or days in advance.
Prior to the procedure you will be required to sign a consent form. As with any procedure, there are risks associated with implanting a pacemaker, including infection, severe bleeding, and a collapsed lung. Be sure to discuss these risks or any concerns you may have with your healthcare team.
When you arrive at the hospital, you will dress in a hospital gown and be asked to remove any jewelry or accessories, such as contact lenses or dentures. These will be given to a family member for safe-keeping.
Pacemakers are implanted on either the left or right side of the chest. You will have input as to where it will be best suited for you.
Prior to the procedure, you will be given medications to help relax you. Your chest will be shaved, cleaned, and prepared near the collarbone where the incision will be made.
Although pacemaker procedures may be performed in an operating room, it is not open heart surgery. The procedure is often performed in a cardiac catheterization lab.
You will be conscious during the procedure. However, a local anesthetic will be administered so you will not feel any discomfort. An IV will be started, and electrodes will be attached to monitor your heart rhythms during the procedure.
The doctor will make an incision about two-to-four inches long, right below the collarbone, to create a small pocket. The pacing lead will be threaded through a vein and into your heart.
X-ray monitors will guide your physician through the procedure. If a second lead is used, the doctor will repeat the process.
Leads will be tested for sensing and stimulation, and then sewn into the small pocket under the skin. The electrical pacing for your device is then programmed, and the incision closed.