SA Cardiology Patients Gain Access to Breakthrough Technology

March 23, 2016

South Australian patients now have access to new generation heart defibrillators.

The first two patients to be treated with sub-cutaneous implantable defibrillators (S-ICDs) have been treated at St Andrew’s Hospital in Adelaide.

The  S-ICDs, developed by Boston Scientific Pty Ltd, were implanted into two men, aged 18 and 55, who were at risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

Unlike standard defibrillators, the S-ICDs do not have insulated wires, or leads, inserted directly into the heart, significantly reducing potential complications such as infection and damage to veins.

The Adelaide patients were among the first in Australia to have the new S-ICD system implanted since the products were approved for use by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) late last year.

The procedures were undertaken at St Andrew’s Hospital by Associate Professor Glenn Young, a Partner at Adelaide Cardiology and a member of the Centre for Heart Rhythm Disorders at the University of Adelaide.

Professor Young said the new S-ICD system provided the ability to effectively treat serious heart arrhythmias but with a less invasive procedure required to implant the device. There are still instances where the traditional transvenous defibrillator would be preferred.

“The previous technology involved inserting leads inside blood vessels and into the heart,” he said.

“This can cause problems such as potential infection and scarring to blood vessels, while long term, the repetitive stresses placed on the leads inside the heart can cause them to fracture.

“Extracting broken leads from the heart is an extremely difficult procedure with significant risk to the patient.

“The new technology means leads no longer go into the circulatory system, so they are not subject to the same repetitive stresses and last longer.”

Professor Young said the S-ICD was particularly useful for younger patients, who would inevitably face problems with leads in their heart.

Defibrillators are designed to deliver an electric shock to re-start the heart in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest or extremely rapid heartbeat.

The new S-ICD system comprises two main components – a pulse generator which powers the system, monitors heart activity and generates a shock if needed and an electrode, which enables the device to sense cardiac rhythm and delivers the shock.

Both components are implanted under the skin, the generator at the side of the chest and the electrode beside the breastbone.

In the event of a sudden cardiac arrest or very rapid heartbeat, the unit delivers an electric shock to stimulate the heart back to normal operation.

Professor Young said that because leads did not need to be placed into the heart, the implants were relatively straight forward with less likelihood of complication.

St Andrew’s Hospital Chief Executive Officer, Mr Stephen Walker, said he was delighted that the Hospital had been the first to host the new procedure in South Australia.

“This new technology results in significantly improved patient outcomes for South Australian cardiac patients and reflects the excellent relationship we have built up with Adelaide Cardiology over a number of years,” he said.

Adelaide Cardiology is the most comprehensive provider of cardiac services in South Australia with five metropolitan and 9 regional clinics. It was established in 1935 and is part of Genesis Care, the largest provider of cardiology, radiation oncology and sleep services in Australia.

Further Information:

Stephen Walker

Chief Executive Officer

St Andrew’s Hospital                                                         Ph: 08-8408 2139


Association Professor Glenn Young

Adelaide Cardiology                                                          Ph: 08-8202 6600