Epicardial implantable cardioverter-defibrillator system placed in a 4.9-kg infant

Tex Heart Inst J. 2011;38(4):421-3.


Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators have aided the prevention of sudden cardiac death in adults. The hope is to provide similar benefits to the pediatric population as the devices become smaller. Herein, we present the case of a 4.9-kg, 5-week-old infant boy who presented with cardiopulmonary arrest. After emergency defibrillation, conventional treatment options included long-term hospitalization for later cardioverter-defibrillator implantation, or installation of an external defibrillator with subsequent home telemetry. On the basis of the infant's body dimensions, we decided that an epicardial implantable cardioverter-defibrillator was feasible and the best option. We performed a median sternotomy and placed a Vitality® implantable cardioverter-defibrillator with a 25-cm defibrillator coil and a 35-cm bipolar ventricular lead. The patient experienced no postoperative morbidity or rhythm disturbances and was discharged from the hospital on postoperative day 5. He was placed on β-blocker therapy and has remained well for 3 years.Although external devices can be placed in a small patient, we believe that they are too susceptible to lead damage and lead migration, and that the defibrillator thresholds are less reliable. We think that dysrhythmias even in very small children can be treated effectively and safely with use of an epicardial implantable cardioverter-defibrillator. To our knowledge, this 4.9-kg infant is the smallest patient to have undergone a successful implantation of this kind.

Keywords: Arrhythmias, cardiac/therapy; defibrillators, implantable; heart diseases/therapy; infant; prosthesis implantation/methods; risk assessment/methods; risk factors; treatment outcome.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / complications
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / diagnosis
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / therapy*
  • Body Weight*
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / prevention & control*
  • Defibrillators, Implantable*
  • Electric Countershock / instrumentation*
  • Equipment Design
  • Heart Arrest / diagnosis
  • Heart Arrest / etiology
  • Heart Arrest / physiopathology
  • Heart Arrest / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pericardium
  • Sternotomy
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists