An abdominal active can defibrillator may facilitate a successful generator change when a lead failure is present

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Journal Article

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Active can; Implantable cardioverter defibrillator


Aims: Defibrillator generator changes are frequently performed on patients with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator in an abdominal pocket. These patients usually have epicardial patches or older endocardial lead systems. At the time of a defibrillator generator change defibrillation may be unsuccessful as a result of lead failure. We tested the hypothesis that an active can defibrillator implanted in the abdominal pocket could replace a non-functioning endocardial lead or epicardial patch. Methods and Results: An abdominal defibrillator generator change was performed in 10 patients, (mean age= 67 ± 13 years, nine men). Initially, a defibrillation threshold (DFT) was obtained using a passive defibrillator and the chronic endocardial or epicardial lead system. DFTs were then performed using an active can emulator and one chronic lead to simulate endocardial or epicardial lead failure. We tested 30 lead configurations (nine endocardial and 21 epicardial). Although a DFT of 7·3 ± 4·2 joules was obtained with the intact chronic lead system, the active can emulator and one endocardial or epicardial lead still yielded an acceptable DFT of 19·9 ± 6-1 joules. In addition, a successful implant (DFT ≤24 joules) could have been accomplished in 28 of 30 (93%) lead configurations. Conclusion: An active can defibrillator in an abdominal pocket may allow for a successful generator change in patients with defibrillator lead malfunction. This would be simpler than abandoning the abdominal implant and moving to a new pectoral device and lead or tunnelling a new endocardial electrode. However, loss of defibrillation capability with a particular complex lead may be a warning of impending loss of other functions (eg. sensing and/or pacing). © 1999 The European Society of Cardiology.