Subcutaneous Internal Cardiac Defibrillator (S-ICD)

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death among adults over the age of 40 in the United States and other countries. In the United States alone, approximately 250,000 people die every year from SCA, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. SCA usually results from an abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia), often as a result of an underlying heart condition.

SCA can be prevented for some patients with known, underlying heart conditions by the preventive placement of an internal cardiac defibrillator (ICD). ICDs detect abnormal heart rhythms and are capable of sending a jolt of electricity to restore normal heart rhythm and prevent sudden cardiac arrest.

The FDA-approved S-ICD® System is the first defibrillator designed to provide life-sustaining therapy to patients at risk of sudden cardiac arrest without device implantation in the heart. Cooper University Hospital was one of only 35 medical centers in the United States—and the only one in New Jersey—to participate in the original clinical trial and implantation of the device. It is now a leading training site for physicians from around the country interested in offering the S-ICD System to their patients.

It is estimated that more than 650,000 people in the United States currently have implanted cardiac devices (ICDs) designed for defibrillation.

Advantages of the S-ICD System

While implantable defibrillators have been widely used for years in patients with heart rhythm disorders, the S-ICD System is unique because it is the only internal cardiac device that is implanted entirely subcutaneously (under the skin) instead of through the vascular system. It does not require leads (wires) to be threaded through the veins and there are no parts that reside in or on the heart.

The less-invasive S-ICD is also beneficial for young patients who may require multiple lead replacements throughout their lifetime, as lead replacements are complex procedures associated with potential risks, such as vascular injury and infection.

The placement of conventional ICDs in the upper chest is very visible and can affect quality of life for many patients. The S-ICD is inserted in an inconspicuous place under the skin on the left side of the patient’s torso, just along the bra line, making it more aesthetically pleasing to many patients.

How the S-ICD System Works

ICDs detect life-threatening heart rhythms (such as very fast and/or disorganized rhythms) and provide a jolt of electricity (or shock) to restore the heart’s normal rhythm and prevent sudden cardiac arrest.

Conventional ICDs monitor heart rhythms via leads that are threaded through a vein into the heart and deliver a lifesaving electric shock to the heart when a harmful, abnormal rhythm is detected. 

Instead of being threaded through a vein, the S-ICD System uses a subcutaneous electrode to monitor the heart’s rhythm. When it detects a life-threatening arrhythmia, the device generates electrical pulses, or shocks, to restore a normal rhythm.

Conditions that May Be Treated with the S-IDC System

  • Arrhythmia
  • Ventricular tachycardia
  • Ventricular fibrillation
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy 

For an appointment with a Cooper and Inspira Cardiac Care heart rhythm specialist, please call 833.SJHEART (833.754.3278).