This is a procedure to insert an artificial pacemaker. A pacemaker is a small, battery-operated device. It helps maintain a normal heartbeat by sending electrical impulses to the heart. It may be used short term or long term. It depends on why it is being used.
Long-term health problems such as diabetes and obesity
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
The doctor may meet with you to talk about:
Any allergies you may have
Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before the procedure
Fasting before the procedure, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
Whether you need a ride to and from the procedure
Tests that will need to be done before the procedure
The doctor will give local anesthesia—the area will be numbed.
Description of the Procedure
A small incision will be made beneath the collarbone. The pacemaker is placed through the incision. The wires will be threaded through a vein from the collarbone to the heart. The incision is then closed with stitches. A bandage will be placed over the site.
How Long Will It Take?
About 2 hours
Will It Hurt?
Pain is common in the first few days after the procedure. Medicine will help.
Average Hospital Stay
Some can go home on the same day. Others may need to stay in the hospital for a day or so.
At the Hospital
At the care center, staff will take steps to lower your risk of infection, such as:
Washing their hands
Wearing gloves or masks
Keeping your incision covered
There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection, such as:
Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and staff to do the same
Reminding staff to wear gloves or masks
Not letting others touch your incision
Recovery will take a week or so. Physical activities may be limited during that time.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
Fever or chills
Excess bleeding, redness, swelling, or discharge from the incision
Pain that you cannot control with the medicines
Coughing, problems breathing, or chest pain
Fast, slow, or uneven heartbeats
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Madhavan M, Mulpuru SK, et al. Advances and future directions in cardiac pacemakers: part 2 of a 2-part series. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2017;69(2):211-235.
Pacemaker insertion. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/pacemaker-insertion. Accessed September 8, 2021.
Pacemakers. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/device/pacemakers . Accessed September 8, 2021.
What is a pacemaker? American Heart Association website. Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/arrhythmia/prevention--treatment-of-arrhythmia/pacemaker#.W0O4YtVKhQI. Accessed September 8, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Nicole Meregian, PA
Last Updated: 9/8/2021
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