An analysis of implantable cardiac device reliability. The case for improved postmarketing risk assessment and surveillance. Academic Article uri icon


  • Implantable cardiac devices have become the mainstay of the treatment of patients with heart disease. However, data regarding their reliability and, inferentially, safety have been called into question. We reviewed annual reports submitted to the Food and Drug Administration Office of Device Evaluation by device manufacturers from 2003 to 2007. The annual number of implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs) and cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillator (CRT-D) implants, explants, and returned devices were tabulated along with the cumulative (Cum) number of implants for each device. We derived an annual explantation rate (AER) defined as the ratio of the annual number of explants less the number of normal battery depletions/Cum (×1000). From 2003 to 2007, 256,392 CRT-D and 459,300 ICD devices were implanted in the United States. The overall mean (±SD) AERs for ICD and CRT-D devices were, respectively, 49.5 (15.6) per 1000 ICD devices and 82.6 (35.5) per 1000 CRT-D devices. The AER for each device type significantly decreased over the study period (P for trend <0.001) although the AER for CRT-D devices was 38% higher than that for ICD devices (P < 0.001). On average, 20.3% of CRT-D devices and 22.6% of ICD devices were returned to the manufacturer for analysis after explantation. The rates of explanted CRT-D and ICD devices decreased from 2003 to 2007. Notwithstanding this favorable trend, the AER for CRT-D devices was higher than that for ICD devices. Improved methods for tracking individual device histories are needed for more precise estimates of the risk of device explantation for suspected malfunction. The proportion of devices returned to the manufacturer is suboptimal and needs to be improved to better understand the mechanisms of device malfunction.

publication date

  • July 2012