Pacemaker and ICD Lead Extraction

Pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) deliver energy to the heart through thin, flexible wires called leads. When these leads are not working properly – because of infection, damage, or surrounding scar tissue – they need to be removed.

Leads that have been in place for many years can become very attached to the heart and blood vessel walls, making them difficult to remove. UC San Diego surgeons are skilled at using a minimally invasive procedure called laser lead extraction to cut through scar tissue surrounding the lead and allow it to be easily removed.

Leader in Laser Lead Extractions

Only a small number of medical centers offer this complex surgery. UC San Diego performs more than 100 lead extractions annually, more than any other facility in the region. It is also the only one to perform this surgery in a “hybrid” operating room, with both state-of-the-art imaging equipment and everything necessary for open heart surgery. It is also unique for having two physicians — a cardiac electrophysiologist and a cardiothoracic surgeon — perform the surgery together, enhancing patients’ safety enormously.

Video: Hear from a lead extraction patient and her doctors

In November 2012, our facility performed its 100th lead extraction, with a 100% success rate. JenyLyn Carpio, the 100th patient, was 22 years old when she experienced a total heart blockage and was diagnosed with a genetic heart disorder that required a defibrillator and pacemaker. She discusses her treatment, and Dr. Ulrika Birgersdotter-Green and Victor Pretorius give more information on lead extractions.

Laser Lead Extraction

100 Lead Extractions, 100% Success Rate

In 2012, our physicians performed their 100th lead extraction surgery. Read more.

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