New heart defibrillator is game-changer for tweens, teens with heart arrhythmia

This week the pediatric cardiovascular team at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, in cooperation with the OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute, made history by implanting a first-of-its kind heart defibrillator that is less invasive and poses fewer risks to patient than current heart defibrillators.

Kenneth Clark, 17, is the first pediatric patient in Oregon to receive the implant.

Clark recently was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Additional testing suggested he was at risk for lethal fast heart rhythms and a defibrillator was recommended. Boston Scientific had recently released a new defibrillator called the S-ICD, and Clark was a perfect candidate. His procedure was uneventful and smooth.

The main advantage of the S-ICD (subcutaneous implantable cardiac defibrillator) is there are no wires inside the heart. All components of the defibrillator are located under the skin on the chest and in the armpit. This minimizes the risk of potential complications associated with conventional defibrillators, including heart perforation, wire dislodgment, heart infections, blocked veins, heart blood clots, and the later possibility of having the wires extracted, which can be risky.

Due to size of the defibrillator, this technology is not yet appropriate for very small children. But for teens and some pre-teens, it promises to be a very useful advancement. It is only a matter of time before this technology is applicable to even smaller children.

View an animation of the procedure:

Seshadri Balaji, M.D.
Professor of Pediatric Cardiology
OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital