Nonthoracotomy Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator Placement in Children: Use of Subcutaneous Array Leads and Abdominally Placed Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators in Children


Address for correspondence: Rainer Gradaus, M.D., Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik, Innere Medizin C (Kardiologie und Angiologie), Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, D-48129 Münster, Germany. Fax: 49-251-8347864; E-mail:


Nonthoracotomy ICD in Children. Introduction: The need to access the right ventricle might preclude transvenous placement of a defibrillation lead at implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) placement, especially in small children or children with complex congenital heart defects. We investigated a subcutaneous array lead in addition to an abdominally placed “active can” ICD device in two children to avoid a thoracotomy.

Methods and Results: The first child (age 12 years, 138 cm, 41 kg) had transposition of the great arteries with a subsequent surgical intra-atrial correction by the Mustard technique. The second child (age 14 years, 161 cm, 54 kg) had a single atrium and a single ventricle, d-transposition of the aorta, and atresia of the main pulmonary artery with a surgical anastomosis between the aorta and the right pulmonary artery by the Cooley technique. The defibrillation threshold was 18 J and < 20 J at initial implantation and at generator replacement in the first patient and 20 J in the second patient. During follow-up of 6 years and 1 month, respectively, no ICD-related complications occurred.

Conclusion: In children in whom endocardial, right ventricular placement of a defibrillation lead is precluded, defibrillation is possible and safe between an abdominally placed “active can” ICD device and a subcutaneous array lead. This approach may avoid a thoracotomy in children with no possibility for transvenous ICD placement.