• In 51 patients who required automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator implantation without additional cardiac procedures, the lead system was implanted using a lateral thoracotomy approach, with complete muscle sparing in the last 24 patients. Exposure was excellent and allowed repositioning of leads for optimal defibrillation thresholds in 18 patients. Five of 19 patients who had previously undergone intrapericardial procedures required intrapericardial dissection for lead placement to provide satisfactory defibrillation thresholds. There were no intraoperative deaths or infarctions. The 30-day mortality rate of 3.9% was comparable with those in other series, and the use of muscle-sparing techniques and supplemental epidural anesthesia prevented pulmonary complications or the need for prolonged ventilatory support. We favor a muscle-sparing lateral thoracotomy incision for automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator insertion, particularly in patients with a history of previous intrapericardial procedures.
(Arch Surg. 1991;126:778-781)