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AICD Insertion What to Expect

Prior to Surgery

  • You may be asked to stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), Clopidogrel (Plavix), warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood thinners.
  • Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of the surgery.
  • Discuss any possible bleeding disorders or other medical conditions that you may have.
  • You will have blood samples taken in case you need a blood transfusion.
  • Let your doctor know if you have a cold, flu fever, herpes breakout or other illness prior to surgery. This may require that your reschedule your procedure.
  • Do not smoke. This will help you to recover quicker.

On the Day of the Surgery

  • You will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything after midnight the night before the surgery.
  • Take the drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.

After Surgery

Most patients will remain in the hospital for up to four days.

  • You will be monitored to ensure that the unit is functioning properly and that the incision is healing.
  • You will have a dressing over your incision site for the next few days. You will need to keep if dry and avoid showering.
  • Before you are discharged, you will receive instructions on your AICD.

Recovery: what to expect in the next few weeks

  • While you may feel much better after the first week, you need to follow your physician’s orders on recommended activities.
  • You will have follow-up appointments with your cardiologist at regular intervals to check the unit and your heart. Based on how often the AICD is programmed for your particular arrhythmia, you will have to have the battery replaced at some point. Your doctor will discuss this with you. It is an outpatient procedure.

AICD Insertion Q&A

What does the implantation involve?

Under general anesthesia, your cardiologist will make a small incision in your upper chest near the collarbone. A wire will be run through a vein into the heart and a small cavity will be created to place the AICD, which is about the size of a deck of cards. The unit, which is connected to the wire, will be tested to ensure that you are receiving the appropriate shock to regulate your heart beat. This testing of the unit is done under sedation so you will not be uncomfortable.

How many incisions are made?

One incision is made in your upper chest.

How long do I stay in the hospital?

Patients will normally stay in the hospital for up to four days.

What is the recovery time?

Most patients recover within a week and can resume normal activities as advised by their physician.