Arrhythmia Devices

For some people with AFib or other arrhythmia, ablation or medication don’t do enough to correct the heart rhythm. MUSC Health offers the most advanced options to help regulate your heart.

At the Frank P. Tourville Sr. Arrhythmia Treatment Center, you’ll find South Carolina’s leading experts in advanced treatments for arrhythmia and AFib, including subcutaneous implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs), which an MUSC Health doctor helped develop. These devices regulate your heart rate and can even restart your heart after sudden cardiac arrest.

Getting an ICD or Other Arrhythmia Device

Pacemakers and ICDs may be placed inside the heart or in the upper chest. Some have leads (wires) that extend into the heart. Others sense your heart rhythm wirelessly, without leads. Depending on the device, it may be implanted through surgery or a minimally invasive procedure in our cardiac catheterization lab. Most people go home within 24 hours.

Most heart rhythm devices last for years. Eventually, you may need to have your device replaced. If you need to have the device removed (called lead extraction), our team uses special catheter-guided lasers for the most precise procedure. Learn more about our heart surgery services.

Arrhythmia Devices at MUSC Health

MUSC Health offers all the available devices for arrhythmia and some that are still being tested, including:

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICDs)

Many ICDs use wires (leads) directly into your heart. These devices detect dangerous arrhythmias and send electrical pulses to help restore a normal rhythm. They act as a pacemaker to regulate your heart’s rate (backup pacing). They can also deliver a shock to restart your heart if it stops suddenly.

About ICDs:

  • An ICD is a battery-powered device about the size of a pocket watch.
  • Doctors implant an ICD during a minimally invasive procedure.
  • Modern ICDs track your heart rate and deliver information wirelessly to your doctor through a device you take home with you.

Subcutaneous ICDs

Our team played a central part in clinical trials for subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), also known as S-ICDs or wireless ICDs. Our doctors have years of experience with these devices. Like traditional ICDs, they can shock your heart back into rhythm. They do not provide a pacemaker-function that regulates your heart rate, but they can be a good option for people who don’t need backup heart pacing.

About subcutaneous ICDs:

  • Subcutaneous ICDs use a pulse generator implanted near your armpit and a series of electrodes placed near your heart. They carry less risk of infection and lower complication rates than traditional wired ICDs, which use leads placed directly into your heart.
  • Doctors implant a wireless ICD during a minimally invasive procedure in our electrophysiology (EP) lab.
  • S-ICDs enable your doctor to monitor your heart rate through wireless reporting and tracking, to identify and respond to issues immediately.

Micra™ Leadless Pacemaker

MUSC Health is among a select few medical centers in the region to offer the world’s smallest leadless (wire-free) pacemaker: the Micra Transcatheter Pacing System. This device regulates heart rhythm in patients who have symptoms from bradycardia, a slow heartbeat.

About the Micra device:

  • The Micra pacemaker is the size of a large vitamin and weighs the same as a penny. The device sits inside the heart and delivers electrical stimulation without wires. Like traditional pacemakers, Micra automatically adjusts your heart rate based on your activity level.
  • Our doctors use a transcatheter (through a vein) procedure to place the device in the heart’s right ventricle (lower chamber).
  • Your doctor may prefer Micra’s transcatheter approach if you’re unable to receive a traditional pacemaker because veins in your chest are blocked. Patients with normal anatomy also may be good candidates for this device, depending on the heart rhythm problem.
  • Because Micra has no wires, it has a low likelihood of malfunction due to wire damage or wear and tear. Additionally, Micra doesn’t require your surgeon to create a pocket between the skin and muscle of your chest to hold the device. It has lower risk of infection, bleeding and other complications.

MRI-Compatible Pacemakers

Pacemakers monitor your heart rate and automatically send electrical pulses to control irregular rhythms. With age, people are more likely to need a MRI scan to check for problems with the brain, nerves or bones, or to detect certain types of cancer. Magnets used in MRIs can disrupt pacemakers, but with an MRI-compatible pacemaker, you can safely undergo an MRI scan without worry.


Our heart rhythm specialists were the first in South Carolina to implant the WATCHMAN device, which offers an alternative to blood-thinning medications for people at risk of stroke. Our team played an integral part in clinical trials testing the device before it received FDA approval.

About the WATCHMAN device:

  • The WATCHMAN device permanently seals off the LAA since people with AFib often experience blood clots in this section of the heart.
  • The device prevents blood clots from entering the bloodstream and causing a stroke.
  • People with the WATCHMAN device can usually stop using blood thinners within six months, under their doctor’s guidance.

Other Arrhythmia Innovations

MUSC Health is at the forefront of innovations in treating AFib and other arrhythmias. As South Carolina’s only academic medical center, we have a strong research program that enables us to provide many options and a lot of hope for our patients.

Additionally, our research allows us to provide the most up-to-date care, including research and testing of a new LAA occlusion device similar to the WATCHMAN device. Read more about our clinical trials.