Each year, approximately 200,000 pacemakers are implanted in the United States. Pacemakers help patients regulate their heart rate and avoid serious complications like passing out, having debilitating fatigue that can accompany an abnormally slow heartbeat, or preventing fatal arrhythmias. As a board-certified general surgeon, Dr. Barker offers pacemaker implantation services to patients in the Bluefield, VA/WV area, if your cardiologist has recommended a pacemaker implantation.

Pacemakers Q & A

Why might I need a pacemaker?

If you suffer from an abnormally slow, irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, your cardiologist may recommend a pacemaker which is a small device that sends electrical impulses into your heart to stabilize and regulate your heartbeat.

What are the different types of pacemakers?

The most common type of pacemaker is a kind that Dr. Barker implants below your skin around your collarbone. He guides tiny wires to certain areas of your heart using fluoroscopy in the operating room. Nowadays the pacemakers and leads (pacemaker wires) we use are MRI compatible. This means, if in future you need one, it is safe to have an MRI. Typically, initial pacemaker implantation requires an overnight stay so that the leads remain in good position and readjust them in the very unlikely event that becomes necessary.

The pacemaker operates off battery power and most batteries last five years or more. Your cardiologist will regularly check your pacemaker (often every six months) to ensure that everything is functioning properly. When it is time to replace the battery, Dr. Barker goes in, removes the old pulse generator and connects the new one to the wires already in your heart. Pulse generator replacement does not require an overnight stay.

Less frequently, your cardiologist may want you to have a pacemaker/defibrillator combination. Nowadays this is done in much the same way and can be done locally. Pacemaker implantation rarely requires general anesthesia. During the procedure an anesthetist administers a sedative to relax you and Dr. Barker numbs the area with a long lasting local anesthetic. In most cases, you may leave the hospital the following morning, once Dr. Barker checks that the pacemaker is functioning well.
Rest assured, you will be given comprehensive postoperative instruction, and Dr. Barker is always available should you have questions or concerns, call or use the online scheduling tool to set up a consultation or telemedicine consult with Dr. Barker.