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Pacemaker & Lead Extraction

Laser Lead Extraction TeamPacemakers 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.

Why Do I Need a Lead Extraction?

Pacemaker and ICD 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.

A Top Performer in Laser Pacemaker and ICD Lead Extractions

Only a small number of medical centers offer this complex surgery. UC San Diego does more each year than any other facility in the region, having performed more than 650. 

We also do this surgery in a “hybrid” operating room, with both state-of-the-art imaging equipment and everything necessary for open-heart surgery. Two physicians — a cardiac electrophysiologist and a cardiothoracic surgeon — perform the surgery together. This enhances patients’ safety significantly.

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

Video: Learn about pacemaker and ICD lead extractions

Dr. Ulrika Birgersdotter-Green explains the team approach to remove or replace pacemaker and defibrillator leads at UC San Diego Health.

Video: What to expect before, during and after your lead extraction 

Meet the UC San Diego Health physicians who perform this delicate and specialized procedure, and other team members who will ensure your comfort and safety. You'll also get a step-by-step overview of your stay at Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center.