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Complications following Pacemaker Implants

Pacemaker is a device used to distinguish the pace in which the heart beat and disseminate an electrical signal at a suitable rate in order to stimulate the heart to contract at a regular pace in instances of disordered heart rhythms. This device has saved many lives so far and newer and more intelligent devices are being developed to counteract certain deficiencies as well as to function more efficiently without the need to overlook its activities from time to time, at least for a longer period.

How is the pacemaker implanted?

The pacemaker is a device of the size of a wristwatch dial and would have the thickness of two dollar coins. It is usually placed under the collar bone and this is done through a small incision made on the skin and by placing the device in a soft tissue pocket made underneath the skin incision. The wires emanating from the device will be guided into the major venous channels through a puncture and will be advanced till they reach the heart chambers in which it will oppose the impulse generating nodes to stimulate the heart muscles according to the device signals.

Following insertion, the sutures will be closed and the patient will most often be able to leave home within couple of days. It is likely that the doctor starts the patient on pain relievers and sometimes antibiotics in addition to other medications pertaining to different ailments which exist. The process usually take about an hour and according to statistics only about 5% of the pacemaker implants leads to complications in the developed world.

What are the possible complications of pacemaker implants?

Although unlikely in most instances, one of the significant complications is the development of a hematoma at the site of the implantation. It can manifest as a skin discoloration, pain and sometimes as a swelling.

Accumulation of air within the pleural space is another possibility and this takes place due to penetration injuries while attempting to make an incision and position the pacemaker device in the chest. Although this is a mild occurrence and is detected through a post procedure x-ray in most instances, there is a possibility of it developing into a major pneumothorax which requires inserting drainage tubes to expel the collected air.

Infections is another possibility but could be avoided in most instances through sterile techniques and by giving prophylaxis antibiotics before the procedure. When it manifest, the symptoms may include redness, increased warmth, fever or else a discharge from the incision site.

Dislodging of the pacemaker wires is another complication known to occur in this procedure which may require re-positioning or else complete replacement in certain instances.