Subcutaneous ICD implanted without touching the heart
Electrophysiologists Roy Sauberman, MD, and David Dobesh, MD, are the first cardiac specialists to implant subcutaneous defibrillators at the Barnabas Health Heart Center at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center for the treatment of patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest. Known as an S-ICD, the device sits just below the skin without the need for lead wires that are traditionally placed into the heart.
"The S‐ICD system leaves the heart and its blood vessels untouched, reducing the risk of complication and infection," said Dr. Dobesh. "The absence of any leads being placed in the heart or blood vessels, as compared with standard defibrillators, dramatically changes the management in the event of an infection or damage to the defibrillator system." This feature also makes extraction of the device less complicated when the time comes.
"Because the defibrillator is implanted outside of the chest wall and just below the skin, it continually monitors the heart's rhythm, similar to an EKG," added Dr. Sauberman. "This benefit of identifying the heart's rhythm, instead of its individual beats, gives the device the potential to discriminate between life-threatening and non life-threatening heart rhythms." Electrophysiologists anticipate that this makes the S-ICD less likely to deliver a shock in cases of non life-threatening rhythms.
The new S-ICD provides critical protection for patients with primary electrical or structural heart disease such as long QT syndrome, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or Brugada syndrome. "While it is a leap forward in technology, the S-ICD is strictly a defibrillator and does not provide the additional pacemaker therapy necessary for many patients," noted Dr. Dobesh. "It is well suited for select groups of patients - younger people who are likely to require a defibrillator for many years, patients with poor vascular access and patients at increased risk for infection, such as people with chronic infection and those on dialysis."
For the patients' convenience, Barnabas Health electrophysiologists can implant the S-ICD - and all other defibrillator and pacing devices - at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Saint Barnabas Medical Center. For more information about the S-ICD or to refer a patient, please call the Barnabas Health Atrial Fibrillation Center at 866-549-2342.