Home Care after Subcutaneous Implanted Cardioverter-Defibrillator
(S-ICD System) Placement
This handout will help you learn about how
to care for yourself after you have an S-ICD
implanted. A nurse will review this with you
before you go home.
What is an S-ICD?
An S-ICD system is an Implantable
Cardioverter-Defibrillator. It monitors your
heart at all times. It is placed just under your
skin, above the layer of muscle. It sends
electric shocks to your heart if you have an
unsafe rhythm. Your doctor or nurse will let
you know how your device is programmed.
Details about your S-ICD
Date your S-ICD was placed: ___________
by Dr. _____________________________.
Your defibrillator shock zone(s) is (are)
The company that made your ICD is
You will need a clinic visit 2-3 weeks after
your S-ICD is placed. The site will be
checked to see how you are healing. The S-
ICD will also be checked. This is also called
Your follow-up visit is scheduled:
Your S-ICD will be checked every 3-6
months. In some cases, we may be able to
alternate clinic visits with remote checks
from your home. We will talk about this at
your first clinic visit.
ξ Leave the current bandage on until
ξ Keep the site dry.
ξ Incision sites should be kept clean
and dry (no showering) for 3 days
following the procedure.
ξ When you do shower, let the soap
and water run down the incisions.
ξ Do not scrub or rub the sites.
ξ The Steri-strips (the thin pieces of
tape over the incision) hold the skin
together as it heals. These should be
left in place until they fall off on
their own. Our nurses may take them
off during your first clinic visit.
ξ Do not put any lotions or ointments
on the incision. As you heal, the site
may itch. This is normal.
ξ Do not scratch or rub the sites.
ξ Look at the site daily for any signs of
ξ Warmth over the site
ξ Increased tenderness
ξ Fever (101º F or greater)
If you notice any of the above, you need to
call the device clinic immediately at
If you have pain at the site, you may take
any mild pain reliever, such as
acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen
(Motrin®) that has worked for you in the
Identification (ID) Card
You have been given an ID card. Carry your
card with you at all times. The device
company will mail your permanent card to
you in about 2 months. Be sure to let all
people that you see for your health and
dental care that you have this device. This
includes all doctors, nurses, dentists,
chiropractors, or any other person you see
for your health care.
There are certain electrical hazards to be
aware of. See below for a list of cautions,
things to avoid, and devices that are okay to
be around. This is just a partial list. For
more information, call your device
company. The phone number is on the back
of your ID card.
ξ MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
ξ Working under the hood of a running
ξ Electrocautery in the operating room
or dentist’s office
ξ Arc welding
ξ Therapeutic radiation
ξ Cell phones: These should be at least
6 inches away from your S-ICD.
ξ Theft detection devices: These are
often around the entrances of stores.
Walk through them as usual. Do not
linger near these.
ξ Airport security: Tell security staff
that you have an ICD. Show them
your Medical Device ID card.
ξ Magnets: Anything with a magnet
should be kept at least 6-8 inches
away from your ICD. This includes
magnetic snaps in jackets, magnetic
name badges, and electronic
equipment with magnetic strips.
Okay to be around:
ξ Microwave ovens
ξ Hair dryers
ξ Electric blankets and heating
ξ Radios, TVs, and stereos
When to Call
Call the doctor or nurse the same day
ξ You feel a shock from your
ξ You have any signs of infection such
as redness, swelling, drainage,
warmth, increased tenderness over
the site, or fever (any temperature
Call 911 for emergency help if:
ξ You are shocked more than once.
ξ You are shocked and feel that you do
not return to your normal self a few
Who to Call
ξ UW Health Heart and Vascular Care
ξ Monday to Friday call (608) 263-
1530. After hours, nights, weekends,
and holidays, this number is
answered by the message center. Ask
for the cardiology fellow on call.
Give the operator your full name and
phone number. The doctor will call
ξ If you live out of the area, please call
Planning for the Future
Even if your S-ICD is placed as a
precaution, we ask that you fill out advance
directives. These are legal forms that allow
you to state your health care wishes for
future health care should you be unable to
make health care decisions. A Durable
Power of Attorney for Health Care allows
you to name someone you know and trust to
act on your behalf if you can no longer
speak for yourself. The Living Will only
covers “end of life” decisions when life-
support machines and/or feeding tubes are
used. These forms tell others about your
health care wishes and can help guide care.
They make it easier for doctors and family
members to follow through with your health
care wishes. The nurse case manager and/or
social worker can help you with these forms
We encourage you to think about your ICD
in case you are diagnosed with a terminal
illness or suffer a major injury. You do have
the choice to “deactivate” (turn off) the ICD
at any point in time. If your ICD is turned
off, it will not shock you if your heart goes
into an unsafe rhythm, which could lead to a
cardiac arrest and even death. We feel this is
important to discuss with your family and
health care team.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 8/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing.