During a pacemaker procedure, the doctor administers local anesthetic and sedation to the patient and makes a small incision in the upper chest, notes Medtronic. The doctor implants the pacemaker leads into the heart through a vein, connects the leads to the pacemaker, and inserts the pacemaker under the skin.
Before the doctor closes the pacemaker incision, he tests the leads to ensure they are working properly. He also programs the pacemaker to suit the patient's specific needs, states Medtronic. Once the doctor is certain the pacemaker is working properly, he closes the incision. Patients may feel burning, stinging or pulling sensations throughout the procedure, but they should not experience pain. A pacemaker implant typically takes two to five hours and requires an overnight stay in the hospital, according to Cleveland Clinic.
During a pacemaker implant, doctors use a large X-ray machine to assist in properly positioning the pacemaker leads. The nurse places special patches on the patients to connect them to a defibrillator. The defibrillator allows the healthcare team to pace the heart rate if it is too slow during the procedure, or deliver a shock to the heart if a life-threatening heart rhythm occurs, explains Cleveland Clinic. Patients also wear monitors that track oxygen levels and blood pressure throughout the procedure.