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Pacemaker insertion

Your understanding of the treatments and tests you receive are very important to everyone at Community Howard Regional Health. This information is meant to acquaint you with standard procedures followed in a routine pacemaker insertion. Read the material, share it with your family and ask any clarifying questions of the nurse or technologist.

Your comfort during this procedure is very important to everyone at Community Howard. Please let the technologist know if there is something that can be done to make you more comfortable during this procedure.


A pacemaker is an electronic device that helps regulate the heart’s beat. It consists of two parts; a generator (battery) and one or more electrodes (wires). The electrodes carry electrical impulses from the generator to the heart, causing the heart to beat consistently.


  • You may be asked to not take anything by mouth for 6 to 8 hours before the procedure.
  • You may need to stop some medications a few days prior to the procedure. If your doctor wants you to do this, he will tell you.
  • A technologist will cleanse and shave the area of your chest where the pacemaker is to be implanted. This is done to prevent infection.
  • You will be hooked up to a cardiac and blood pressure monitor. This will monitor your heart rate and your blood pressure frequently.
  • You will lie on the table in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab or operating room.
  • You will be given a strong sedative and a local anesthetic (numbing medication) will be injected into the skin at the area that was cleansed and shaved.
  • The doctor will make a 3 to 4 inch incision and make a small pocket under the skin to hold the pacemaker.
  • The doctor will close the incision with sutures, skin staples and/or apply Steri-strips directly over the incision, followed by a clear dressing.

After the procedure

  • In 7 to 10 days you will be seen by your doctor and the sutures, skin staples and/or Steri-strips will be removed. Only tub or sponge baths are recommended until that time.
  • Call the office immediately if you have:
      • Redness at incision
      • Pain at incision
      • Fever with no other symptoms
      • Swelling at incision
      • Drainage from incision
  • Your doctor may order an antibiotic. If he does, make sure you take all of it even if you have no symptoms that alarm you.
  • Do not take any aspirin until 3 days after the procedure.
  • Some incisional pain is normal. Regular Tylenol usually will take care of this. The discomfort should subside within a few days.


  • It will take a few weeks for the pacemaker to become firmly attached to the heart. Therefore, you will need to limit exertion movement on the side and arm where your pacemaker is located. If the patient is right handed the pacemaker is typically implanted on the left side of the chest. If the patient is left-handed the pacemaker is typically implanted on the right side of the chest.
  • Avoid reaching over your head or heavy lifting for approximately one week.
  • You may resume other normal activities the day after surgery.
  • Unless instructed otherwise, you may begin driving one week after surgery.

Home appliances

You may use any appliance in your home, including electric blankets, microwave ovens and other home appliances. These appliances will NOT harm your pacemaker.

Identification and travel

You will receive a temporary card before you leave the hospital. In the next few weeks you will receive a permanent pacemaker ID card in the mail.


There will be no travel restrictions. However, your pacemaker may set off security devices in airports. If this happens, simply show airport personnel your pacemaker card.


Your pacemaker may be reset by strong electrical currents. You should NOT have an MRI with a pacemaker. You are advised to avoid:

  • Electrical arc welding
  • Observation towers with television transmitters
  • Very close inspection of running combustion engines
  • The pacemaker is also sensitive to shock and shotgun shooting: recoil against the pacemaker must be avoided!

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