Lead Extraction

Some people with irregular heartbeats or arrhythmia have small devices implanted under the skin to regulate their heart rhythm.

These devices — pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) — deliver energy to the heart through thin, flexible wires called leads. When these leads are not working properly, they need to be removed.

UC San Diego Health specialists have the training and experience to perform this complex surgery safely and successfully.

Why Do I Need a Lead Extraction?

Device leads are designed to be implanted permanently in your body. But sometimes your doctor may recommend a lead removal or replacement if it starts malfunctioning or stops working because of infection, damage or surrounding scar tissue.

Pacemaker and ICD leads that have been in place for many years can become attached to the heart and blood vessel walls, making them difficult to remove. UC San Diego surgeons are skilled at using special tools in a minimally invasive procedure called laser lead extraction to cut through scar tissue that holds the lead in place and allows the lead to be safely and easily removed.

A Top Performer in Laser Lead Extractions

Only a small number of medical centers offer this complex surgery. UC San Diego Health does more lead extractions each year than any other facility in the region.

We also do this surgery in a hybrid operating room, with state-of-the-art imaging equipment for noninvasive procedures and everything necessary for open-heart surgery. This allows two physicians — a cardiac electrophysiologist and a cardiothoracic surgeon — to perform the surgery together, enhancing patient safety significantly.

And our physicians have published and presented papers in lead management at national and international conferences, and they often train other electrophysiologists in when and how to perform lead extractions.

Cardiovascular Locations

See heart care locations conveniently located around San Diego County.