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Rhode Island Hospital First in New England to Use Novel Single-lead Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator


Can detect atrial fibrillation that often leads to stroke, heart failure; single lead has benefits of two leads, but with less risk

Rhode Island Hospital is the first hospital in New England, and among the first in the country, to treat a patient with an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) that uses the novel approach of a single lead to sense changes in the atrium (top chamber). When that happens, the ICD effectively shocks the heart back to a normal rhythm in the ventricle (bottom chamber). This new single-lead ICD, which does the job of two leads, can be implanted in less time, and reduces the patient’s exposure to radiation.

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This new ICD lead received approval from the Food and Drug Administration on February 26, 2013, and Antony Chu, MD, director of complex ablation at Rhode Island Hospital, treated the first patient with this new technology on March 1, 2013. To date, six patients have been implanted with this new device at Rhode Island Hospital.

“This type of new technology, which was noted as an unmet need in one of my research papers 10 years ago, is changing the way we treat patients by offering many of the benefits of two leads, but with less procedural risk and with a lower cost,” said Michael Kim, MD, director of the arrhythmia service at Rhode Island Hospital. “Until now, many patients received two leads; however, implanting multiple leads can result in more complications.  The new single lead allows the detection of top chamber rhythms such as atrial fibrillation and thus can help to improve the overall management of the cardiac patient.”

An ICD is an electronic device that monitors the heart’s rhythm. When it detects a fast, abnormal rhythm, it sends a shock to the heart muscle, enabling it to beat normally again. ICDs are used in patients who are being treated for ventricular complications, particularly those who have sustained a cardiac arrest, had at least one episode of ventricular tachycardia or other cardiac issues. Risk factors for AF include high blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes, advanced age, hyperthyroidism and heart disease.

“Traditional ICDs are designed to only sense and correct changes in ventricular rhythm,” Chu said. “But this new ICD can sense changes in the atrial rhythm as well. This is a significant advancement, and we are confident that it will be a great benefit to many of our cardiac patients.”