Lead Punctured My Left Ventricle

Hi, this is my brand new entrance into the Pacemaker Club! I just turned 60 on March 5. I received a Medtronic pacemaker on March 24. Less than 48 hours later I  began to have sharp stabbing chest pains.  The pains were not related to the suture site or the skin around the pacemaker.  I called my cardiologist's office and they said it was related to post-surgery discomfort. For the next week they would come and go. My cardiologist scheduled an appointment & he said all was well. He ordered a chest-ray and that was normal.  After 6 days his office called to say that my pacemaker transmissions were "off" & to come in.  I did & they determined that one of the leads was bad.  They said someone would get in touch with me soon about having an additional surgery. Unfortunately, the next morning I felt like something was pushing down on my chest and then occasionally stabbing me. My daughter took me to the ER. Another normal chest x-ray. The attending ER ordered a CT scan with contrast after that ...  turns out the bad lead had punctured a hole in my left ventricle.  The sac around my heart was full of blood.  And the pacemaker was shocking me rather than doing it's normal "pacemaker" job. They did emergency open-heart surgery to repair everything.  Wow! They said it happens rarely, like a once in twenty years event.   My daughter saved my life.  The attending ER ordered the right test and saved my life.  The cardio-thoracic surgeon saved my life. It has been a month now since the open-heart surgery and I am filled with gratitude. The pain that happened with the bad lead from my pacemaker was the worst.  Recovering from open-heart surgery was rough but it meant that I was still alive.  



by arentas80 - 2021-05-04 01:11:39

What a story and thank god you're here to tell it. I'm so terribly sorry this happened but again thank god you're still here!! I have kind of a similar story.... For most of my adult life I've never had anything more than a cold. On 9/28/2019 I felt weak and lightheaded. I went to the ER that night and nothing was abnormal. The ER doc was sitting there eating an apple I think and said have you ever had your heart checked? I said HUH? Why would I need my heart checked. I'm only 39, what could be wrong with my heart? Well he gave me a Zio Patch and guess what? ONLY when I slept did my heart rate drop down to 21BPM and it would pause for Up to 11 seconds. I still get the chills when I think about it!! Well from there the rest Is history and I'm so thankful that the ER doc took the extra step just to be sure. If he didn't I might not be here to Tell this story. God bless and stay safe! 


what a story

by Tulp - 2021-05-04 22:19:01

Wow, that sounds truly scary. Im sorry you had to go thru that, and happy your daughter took you to Else-Roos.

It is great that you speak so optimistically about it. Thanks for sharing.

I hope you will recover fast,




by AgentX86 - 2021-05-06 21:24:14

I'm curious.  Maybe Crusty can help me out.  How does the left ventricle wall get punctured?


by crustyg - 2021-05-07 11:24:20

I had already messaged privately about this, so pardon me for posting this in public.

I think it's much more likely that the RV was punctured: LV penetration is not usually survivable for very long - high pressure system, cardiac sac fills with blood quite rapidly =>tamponade =>The End.

RV puncture, low pressure system, takes much longer for serious tamponade to develop.  Still fatal if left untreated.

RV is easy to puncture if an active-fixation lead is screwed into the anterior wall of the RV which is really quite thin - it's meant to go into the septum between RV and LV - nice and thick.  That's the whole point of the lateral CXR after lead implantation - to prove that the RV lead *isn't* in the anterior wall, which you can't really see using chest=>back fluoroscopy on the table.

CRT lead to LV goes into coronary sinus and connects to LV muscle that way.  As a trans-venous lead it doesn't go into the inside of the LV (neither does an epi-cardial lead).

Happy to be proved wrong, and my apologies if spouting my opinion here upsets anyone.  Brilliant to have survived the experience of cardiac tamponade - it's a real minutes-matter emergency and not something that anyone wants to have to go through. You can save the patient's life with a big syringe and a looong needle in ED (if you know what you're doing), but the definitive fix is crack the chest open and oversew the hole...

You know you're wired when...

You always have something close to your heart.

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