Pacemaker Lead Extraction | MedStar Health

Removal of a lead that connects a pacemaker to your heart

A pacemaker, or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), is a device that delivers electrical impulses to your heart through a special wire called a lead. It may need to be removed for several reasons, including:

  • Damage to the lead

  • Infection

  • Formation of a large amount of scar tissue at the tip of the lead

  • Recall by the manufacturer

The experts in our Electrophysiology Program work closely with cardiac surgeons to safely extract cardiac device leads.

What to expect when a lead is extracted

Your doctor may ask you to not eat or drink before the procedure. Ask your doctor about any medications you are currently taking and whether you should take them the day of the surgery. You will be placed under general anesthesia and remain unconscious during the extraction.

Your doctor will make a small incision in the upper chest or the groin to access a vein. A small tube called a sheath is inserted into the blood vessel and guided to the lead using X-ray images. The sheath is threaded over the lead, and a laser or small drill is used to detach the lead from the heart tissue. The lead and sheath are then removed.

You will be moved to a recovery area to be monitored overnight. You will likely be able to go home the day after the procedure, but you will need someone to drive you.

Electrophysiology program

We are leaders in developing and using the latest procedures and technologies to treat heart rhythm disorders, and our cardiac electrophysiology laboratory is one of the most sophisticated in North America.


Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.


A fluoroscopy is an imaging technique that uses a continuous X-ray beam passed through the body to create real-time, moving images of your internal structures.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

Transesophageal echocardiogram allows us to take very detailed images of your heart structure from a probe in your esophagus.

Our providers

Cardiologist taking EKG test of senior patient

Expert Cardiology Care

Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our cardiologists.

Our locations

Distance from Change locationEnter your location

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Rd. NW
Washington, DC, 20007

MedStar St Mary's Hospital

25500 Point Lookout Rd.
Leonardtown, MD 20650

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

201 E. University Pkwy.
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

7503 Surratts Rd.
Clinton, MD 20735

MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

18101 Prince Philip Dr.
Olney, MD 20832


Have questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at