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Glossary of Terms

Pacemaker Lead Extraction
The removal of pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) leads from within a human body. A lead is a thin, flexible wire that is initially inserted through a vein and into the heart muscle. From the pacemaker or ICD, energy is delivered through the lead and into the heart to regulate heart rhythm. Two to three leads are used to connect the pacemaker or ICD to the patient's heart.

Because of damage, obstruction, infection, or age, a lead may need to be removed (extracted). Over time, scar tissue grows over the leads, making them more difficult to remove compared to when they were first inserted. To remove a lead, a sheath (tube) is threaded around the existing lead, and inserted through the vein and into the heart muscle. The sheath aids in freeing the lead of any scar tissue that had grown around it. While still inside the sheath, the lead is then pulled out.

Sometimes a laser is required to remove excess scar tissue that had grown around the lead. More information on Pacemaker Lead Extraction using Excimer Laser.


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