Although device leads are designed to be implanted permanently in the body, occasionally pacemaker or device leads must be removed, or extracted. The most common reason for lead extraction is device infection. If any part of the system becomes infected, it is usually impossible to cure the infection without completely removing all hardware from the body. This requires removal of the pulse generator from the chest wall, as well as removal of all leads from the veins and heart. Another reason for lead extraction is when a lead fails to work properly (for example, due to a break in the metal wire or surrounding insulation). The removal of such systems is potentially a high-risk procedure. At the Cardiac Arrhythmia Center we have a dedicated program in collaboration with the Cardiac Surgery Service for lead extractions using laser technology.
Leads from devices are removed from the inside of the heart by use of specialized tools.