Heart Disease Expert Forum
danger of leaving leads in?
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danger of leaving leads in?

At this time I am waiting to hear from my surgeon to set a date for a pacer replacement. This time, they will be replacing everything in addition to removing some leads left in my heart from the last operation. My cardiologist mentioned that since I am so young they do not want to leave the leads in my heart. He mentioned, too, that there are dangers in leaving the leads in.

What dangers are being avoided by removing the leads? What kind of questions should I be asking before this surgery, what should I be aware of?

Thank you,
Terry
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Dear Terry

This is a tough question. The risk to leaving in too much hardware is that of infection. However, removing pacemaker leads is tricky and a skill in itself. Not all cardiologists who put in pacemakers are necessarily expert in taking out leads. In general, it is usually safest to leave old leads in, unless there is a concern of active infection. In addition, it is not usually necessary to change leads if the generator is being replaced. Perhaps your old leads were epicardial (placed on the outer surface of the heart by a cardiac surgeon); if this is the case, then the approach would be different than what I have described.

I hope this has been useful. I wish you the best of luck. Feel free to write back.

Information provided here is for general purposes only. Specific questions should be addressed to your own doctor. If you would like to make an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center, please call 1-800-CCF-CARE or inquire online by using the Heart Center website at www.ccf.org/heartcenter. The Heart Center website contains a directory of the cardiology staff that can be used to select the physician best suited to address your cardiac problem.
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