Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital
Part of Ramsay Health Care

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Sunshine Coast cardiologist implants first revolutionary new subcutaneous defibrillator

May 23, 2016

Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital is the first Sunshine Coast hospital to have implanted the revolutionary new S-ICD ™ implantable defibrillator system for patients at risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

Cardiologist Dr KK Lim completed his first procedure to implant with the new subcutaneous implantable defibrillator at the Cardiac Catheter Laboratory located at Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital last week.

Dr Lim said that the device has only been available in Australia for a year and is an exciting advancement offering patients a less invasive procedure than the traditional transvenous implantable cardioverter defibrillators in which the leads are fed into the heart through a vein and attached to the heart wall.

“The device is implanted just below the skin and the lead is implanted along the breastbone, just under the skin, rather than through a vein and into the heart thereby leaving the heart and blood vessels untouched and intact,” Dr Lim said.

“It is designed to provide the same protection from sudden cardiac arrest as traditional ICDs, however as there is no direct contact with the heart or bloodstream, it avoids the risk of life-threatening infections that could travel directly to the veins and heart via the traditional ICD lead.

“The new device is a great option for young patients with congenital heart conditions as the leads can be more easily replaced as these patients grow,” Dr Lim said.

“The first procedure with the new defibrillator went extremely well and my patient was well enough to go home the next morning, following an overnight stay,” he said. “The team at the hospital that helped to achieve this good outcome included Anaesthetist Chris Graves, Scrub Nurse Lucy Fittler, Scout Nurse, Joanne Quayle, Monitor Deshna Fennell, Team Leader, Melinda Taylor and Radiographers Dani Roberts and Craig Saunders.”

The system has two main components: a pulse generator and a lead. The pulse generator is a small battery-powered device that constantly monitors a person’s heart rhythm and can provide a small electrical shock to restore the heart to normal rhythm when the heart is beating dangerously fast (tachycardia) or chaotically.

Sudden cardiac arrest is an abrupt loss of heart function. Most episodes are caused by the rapid and/or chaotic activity of the heart known as ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation.

The new treatment is suitable for a large amount of patients; however it is not intended for patients who have symptomatic bradycardia (a slow heart beat) and who require a pacemaker,” Dr Lim said.

More than 1,000 patients have been treated at the Cardiac Catheter Laboratory at the Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital this year.

Chief Executive Officer Oliver Steele said the high volume was a good indication of both the need and demand for high quality cardiac services on the Sunshine Coast together with the excellent calibre of the cardiac specialists in practice in the region and the successful outcomes for patients that are being achieved.