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New Defibrillator Shows Promise in Small Study
Date:5/4/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 4 (HealthDay News) -- A new type of implantable defibrillator was able to rectify ventricular fibrillation, a severely abnormal heart rhythm, in all patients who received it, and none experienced sudden death, according to new research.

The device, called the subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator (S-ICD), is already approved in Europe and is undergoing review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said Dr. Lara Dabiri Abkenari, lead author of the study, which is to be presented Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Heart Rhythm Society in San Francisco.

Defibrillators monitor heart rhythm in people with a higher risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heart beat) and restore normal rhythm with an electrical shock if needed.

Conventional defibrillators require insertion of an electrical lead directly into the heart through a vein.

With this new device, the leads are subcutaneous, meaning they are placed right under the skin, which offers a number of advantages, but also some disadvantages, the researchers pointed out.

"The leads are put above the bone on the thorax so they rest on the chest bone," said Dabiri Abkenari, an electrophysiology fellow and doctoral candidate at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. "The big advantage is how minimally invasive it is."

"If there is a lead problem, it's very easy to extract a lead and put in another one," added Dr. Arthur Moss, professor of medicine and cardiology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y.

It's also good for young patients who might grow out of the transvenous system, he said.

And it carries a lesser risk for infection because the leads are, literally, only skin deep, said Dabiri Abkenari, who did the study as part of her research for her doctorate.

But the external leads have one disadvantage in that they can't be u
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