Pacemakers are being implanted with increasing frequency. As with every procedure, there is the potential for complications. There are little recent data on implant complications and consequently we may be misinforming patients when we consent them.
Data from all pacing procedures performed from February 2007 to January 2010 were analysed retrospectively. All chest X-rays and their reports were inspected for pneumothoraces and lead displacements. Correspondence to our local pacemaker extraction centre was used to identify patients with pacemaker infections requiring extraction. Discharge summaries were also used to identify patients with other complications that were not discovered by the above methods.
A total of 1,286 procedures took place over the three-year period. There were a total of 94 (7.5%) complications. Lead displacement was the most common complication occurring in 39 (4.8%) procedures requiring leads. Pneumothorax occurred in 30 (3.7%) patients. Infection occurred in 19 (1.5%) patients. Perforation occurred in three (0.37%) patients.
These are unselected data from a high volume district general hospital (DGH). Infection rates are low. Lead displacement rates are higher than other similar studies. Pneumothorax rates are also high, reflecting the fact that almost all access is via the subclavian vein.