Complications related to permanent pacemaker therapy

Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 1999 May;22(5):711-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8159.1999.tb00534.x.


This study evaluates complications related to permanent endocardial pacing in the era of modern pacemaker therapy. There is only limited information available about the complications related to modern cardiac pacing. Most of the existing data are based on the 1970s and are no longer valid for current practice. The recent reports on pacemaker complications are focused on some specific complication or are restricted to early complications. Thus, there are no reports available providing a comprehensive view of complications related to modern cardiac pacing. Four hundred forty-six patients, who received permanent endocardial pacemakers between January 1990 and December 1995 at Kuopio University Hospital, were reviewed retrospectively using patient records. Attention was paid to the occurrence of any complication during the implantation or follow-up. An early complication was detected in 6.7%, and 4.9% of patients were treated invasively due to the early complication. Late complication developed in 7.2% and reoperation was required in 6.3% of the patients. Complications related to the implantation procedure occurred in 3.1%. Inadequate capture or sensing was observed in 7.4% of the patients. Pacemaker infection was detected in 1.8% and erosion in 0.9% of the patients. An AV block developed in 3.6% (1.6%/year) patients who received an AAI(R)-pacemaker due to sick sinus syndrome. There was no mortality attributable to pacemaker therapy. A great majority (68%) of the complications occurred within the first 3 months after the implantation. Complications associated to modern permanent endocardial pacemaker therapy are not infrequent. Eleven percent of patients needed an invasive procedure due to an early or late complication.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cardiac Pacing, Artificial
  • Cardiac Tamponade / etiology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Heart Block / etiology
  • Heart Injuries / complications
  • Heart Ventricles / injuries
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pacemaker, Artificial / adverse effects*
  • Pneumothorax / etiology
  • Prosthesis Failure
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / etiology
  • Reoperation
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rupture