Many people have a device that keeps their hearts ticking. Cardiac implantable electronic devices (CIEDs), such as implantable cardioverter defibrillators and pacemakers, can be essential and life-saving. About 300,000 U.S. patients receive one yearly, and most operate without fail. The American Heart Association called cardiac device infections a public health crisis.
One in every 20 CIED patients develops an infection within three years of implant, and that risk increases with time. This fact has been recognized by the American Art Association, Heart Rhythm Society, British Heart Rhythm Society, and more. And with such a widely-recognized fact comes a widely-recognized recommendation: If you develop a CIED infection, a specialist should remove the device. Unfortunately, this can be costly and painful. Before the procedure, ask your doctor if laser lead extraction could be a solution.
What is laser lead extraction?
A possible cause of cardiac device infections is problematic lead wires. In the past, this extraction meant pulling out the lead using a counterweight. This method can result in incomplete removal and heart damage, so a new approach was created: laser lead extraction.
Laser lead extraction is a minimally-invasive procedure using small incisions and cold lasers to remove problematic lead. This laser procedure requires less time, has fewer complications, and has a higher success rate.
In the Intermountain Healthcare hospital network, Lutheran Medical Center has one of the region's only laser lead extraction programs. The program recommends laser lead extractions for patients with:
- Lead wires that have become damaged or no longer operate
- Excessive scar tissue around the lead
- Leads that have caused a systemic infection
- Leads that interfere with normal cardiovascular function
- Leads that prevent MRI imaging or other diagnostic tests
- Untreated CIED infections can lead to preventable illness, disability, and even death.
Dr. Bohuslav Finta, an Electrophysiologist at Lutheran Medical Center, stressed the importance of removing problematic cardiac device lead. “Advances in technology enable us to remove the unwanted leads much earlier and safer than before," he said.
You should never risk your heart’s health. Ask your cardiologist if your cardiac device is working well, and don’t delay care if it’s not. It’s important to remember that electrophysiologists, like Dr. Finta, are here to keep your heart ticking.
For more information or to find a specialist, visit our page to learn more about our regional Laser Lead Extraction Program.