During pacemaker implantation, a local anesthetic is given to numb the upper chest, and an incision is made, states Cleveland Clinic. The pacemaker leads are guided through a vein and into the heart, where they attach to the heart muscle. The other end of each lead connects to the pacemaker generator.
Before being connected to the pacemaker generator, the doctor tests each lead, according to Cleveland Clinic. This ensures that the leads work correctly and cause the heart to beat. After testing, the doctor connects the leads to the pacemaker generator, which is placed into a pocket made under the skin of the upper chest.
During the procedure, patients are given a medication to make them feel drowsy and relaxed, but they are not asleep. Patients may feel a burning or pinching sensation when the local anesthetic is injected, and they may feel a pulling sensation while the doctor is making the pocket for the pacemaker. However, patients should not feel pain during the procedure, and they should inform their nurse immediately if they do, according to Cleveland Clinic.
Implanting a pacemaker takes about two to five hours, states Cleveland Clinic. Following a pacemaker implantation, patients generally stay overnight in the hospital for monitoring. A chest X-ray is also performed to check the lungs and verify lead placement.