HF 8001

Subcutaneous Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (S-ICD)

An ICD is a small device that sends a strong shock to your heart if you have an abnormal, life-threatening rhythm. The shock helps to restore an unsafe heart rhythm back to normal. An ICD has two parts, a battery (generator) and the lead(s).

Subcutaneous ICD (S-ICD)
This type of ICD has the battery placed under the skin below your armpit on your left side. The lead that sends the shock is secured under the skin but above your breastbone. This device does not pace your heart.

The Day Before Surgery
A nurse will call you the day before surgery (or the Friday before a Monday surgery). The nurse will review your instructions and tell you what time to arrive. If you do not hear from us by 4 pm, please call 608-263-1530.

If you feel sick or have a fever over 100°F the day before surgery, call the clinic.

The Day of Surgery
Before the procedure starts blood may be drawn for labs. You will have an IV placed in your hand or arm. If needed, a small area around the surgical sites will be shaved. Your skin will be cleaned with a special soap. You may receive antibiotics through your IV to help prevent infection.

You will have general anesthesia for this procedure. Your doctor may also decide to give you a nerve block to help reduce pain after surgery.

Sterile drapes will cover you from your neck to your feet so that only the surgical site is exposed.

The Procedure
A “pocket” is made under the skin on the left side of your chest below the armpit for the generator (which contains the battery). A lead is tunneled below your skin but above your breastbone. A small incision may be needed near the bottom of the breastbone to help put the lead in place. The lead is then connected to the generator. The site(s) is/are closed with dissolvable sutures. The whole process takes about 1-3 hours.

Going Home
You may go home the same day or stay in the hospital overnight. Your device will be checked before you leave, and you may have an x-ray. We will review discharge instructions with you.

You cannot drive yourself home. You need to arrange for someone to drive you home. You may resume driving after 1 week. In some cases, it may be more than one week depending on what your physician recommends.


  • Do not lift more than 10 pounds (i.e. a gallon of milk) for 1 week or until the incision has healed.

  • Avoid dental work for 1 month.

Incision Care
It is important that you take care of your incision site to prevent an infection.

  • Keep the site clean and dry.

  • Do not use any lotions or ointments on the incision.

  • Do not scratch or rub the site. As the site heals, you may feel itching. This is normal.

  • Do not soak in a bathtub, hot tub, or go into a pool, lake or river until your incision is completely healed.

  • Leave the current bandage on for 72 hours.

  • Leave the “steri-strips” under the bandage in place until they fall off on their own. The nurse may also remove them at your follow-up visit.

  • Do not shower for 3 days.

  • When you do shower, let the soap and water run down the incision and gently pat dry.

Look at the site daily for signs of infection.

  • Redness

  • Swelling

  • Fever (101°F or higher)

  • Drainage

  • Tenderness

  • Warm to touch

You may take a mild pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Motrin®) for any pain. You may also apply an ice pack. Ibuprofen or other NSAID medicines increase your risk of bleeding. You may want to avoid them if you are taking a blood thinner.

Device ID Card
You will receive a temporary ID card and will receive your permanent card in about 2 months. Carry your card with you all the time. Tell your health and dental care providers that you have a permanent cardiac device.

Electrical Hazards
You will need to avoid certain types of electrical devices. For more information, call your device company.


  • Working under the hood of a running car

  • Arc welding


  • Therapeutic radiation machines.

  • Electrocautery: Discuss with your physician if you will need electrocautery for a procedure in the operating room or the dentist’s office.

  • Cell phones: Keep cell phones at least 6 inches from your device. Place the phone on the ear opposite of your device or use a headset.

  • Theft detection devices: These are often around the entrances of stores. Walk through them as you normally would. Do not linger near these.

  • Airport security: Tell security staff you have a device. Show them your Medical Device ID card.

  • Magnets: Magnetic snap closure (in jackets), magnetic name badges, and any equipment with a magnetic strip. Keep anything with a magnet 6-8 inches from your device.

  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Discuss with your physician before having an MRI.

Safe Devices

  • Microwaves

  • Hair dryers

  • Electric blankets and heating pads

  • Computers

  • Radios, TVs, and stereos

Follow-up Visit
Location: __________________
Date: ___________Time: ______________
After your first visit, your device will be checked every 3-4 months either in clinic or with home remote checks.

When to Call

  • If you feel lightheaded, pass out or if your symptoms return that you had before your device.

  • You have any signs of infection.

  • Receive a shock from your device, are awake and back at your baseline state of health (call as soon as you can).

  • Receive more than one shock, lose consciousness, or are not at your baseline, you or someone close to you should call 911 and go to the nearest emergency room.

Who to Call
UW Heart and Vascular Clinic.
Monday – Friday, 8:00 am- 4:30 pm
608-263-1530 or 1-800-323-8942

After hours, nights, weekend, and holidays this number will give you the paging operator. Ask for the cardiology fellow on call. Give your full name and phone number with the area code. The doctor will call you back.

For questions about your device, call the device company:

  • Boston Scientific: 1-800-227-3422

If you are a patient receiving care at UnityPoint – Meriter, Swedish American or a health system outside of UW Health, please use the phone numbers provided in your discharge instructions for any questions or concerns.