Pacemakers and Defibrillators

Below are basic explanations of the diagnostic tests and clinical procedures we use. For further information please feel free to contact us.

Single and Dual Chamber Pacemakers

Permanent pacemakers are devices that monitor the heart rhythm and when necessary stimulate the heart with a small electrical pulse to make it beat. Pacemakers consist of a pacemaker box which is placed under the skin on the chest wall and soft wires that sense and pace activity from the heart. The wires are positioned in the right sided chambers of the heart under x-ray guidance and are connected to the pacemaker under the skin. The commonest indication for a pacemaker is progressive decline in the hearts own electrical conducting system, termed heart block. This procedure is performed by Dr Hickman and often an overnight hospital stay is recommended.

Biventricular Pacemaker

A biventricular pacemaker is a pacemaker that is able to pace both ventricles simultaneously rather than relying on the electrical pulse sent to the right ventricle to conduct through to the left ventricle. This is achieved by positioning an additional pacing wire within a vein on the outside surface of the heart, overlying the left ventricle. This technique can improve patients symptoms dramatically and is particularly beneficial in patients with reduced heart function and an ECG demonstrating left bundle branch block. This procedure is performed by Dr Hickman and usually an overnight hospital stay is recommended.

Biventricular Pacemaker Dyssynchrony Optimisation

In patients who have a biventricular pacemaker it is sometimes possible to improve the pacemakers function further by performing a series of echocardiogram measurements whilst altering the timing settings of the pacemaker. These tests will be performed by Dr Hickman and his pacing and echo technical team.

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)

An ICD is recommended in patients who have either had, or are at risk from, dangerous arrhythmias and cardiac arrest. The ICD has all the functionality of a pacemaker but is also able to deliver a high energy charge direct to the heart muscle, if a life threatening arrhythmia occurs. This procedure is performed by Dr Hickman and following an ICD implant patients are admitted overnight for further technical checks to be performed on the ICD the day after implant. ICD aftercare is performed by Dr Hickman and his team of technicians. Some of the aftercare can now be performed from home due to the wireless data transfer functions available on many modern ICDs.

Cardiology Tests and Procedures