A biventricular pacemaker is a small, battery-operated device that helps maintain a normal and coordinated heartbeat by sending electrical impulses to the heart. It is slightly larger than a traditional pacemaker and consists of a battery (generator) and three wires (electrodes). The pacemaker is usually implanted surgically in the upper chest and the leads are threaded through a vein into the heart.
A biventricular pacemaker performs in an identical manner as other pacemakers in delivering electrical stimulus to prevent the heart rate from going too slow. The third wire, however, stimulates both the left and the right pumping chambers (ventricles) to better co-ordinate the beating of the heart. This can help reduce shortness of breath and may improve the ability for you to perform daily activities. It may be combined with an internal cardiac defibrillator (ICD).
The Cooper Heart Institute has a vast and renowned team of physicians who offer world class cardiac care and have extensive experience performing bi-ventricular pacemaker insertion.
Understanding the procedure
Implantation of a biventricular pacemaker is similar to implantation of other pacemakers, however, it does require placement of a third pacing lead.
A cardiologist specializing in electrophysiology and arrhythmias (heart beat irregularities) from the Cooper Heart Institute will make a small incision beneath the collarbone and make a small pocket under the skin to hold the pacemaker. The pacemaker will be inserted through this incision. The wires will be threaded through a blood vessel (vein) under the collarbone to the heart. The leads are placed. The device is able to monitor and deliver impulses to either or both chambers of the heart, helping them to beat in unison again. Once the pacemaker is in place, the physician will test it to make sure it works properly and may make adjustments to improve the pumping function of the heart.
Indications for the procedure
Biventricular pacemaker is typically used in people with symptomatic heart failure and have evidence by echocardiogram and/or ECG that the walls of their ventricles (main pumping chambers) are not pumping in a coordinated manner.