Radiology plays a crucial role in initial assessment and follow-up of cardiac conduction devices (CCDs). At least 1 million patients in the United States have permanent CCDs, which comprise pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators. Chest radiography is unique because it is the only imaging modality that allows evaluation of the physical integrity of CCD leads. As a result, a basic knowledge of the normal and abnormal radiographic appearances of these devices and their various components is important. Radiologists should have a working knowledge of CCD anatomy as well as appropriate positioning and appearance of CCD leads and generators. Acute complications of CCD implantation include dysrhythmia, pneumothorax, perforation of the heart muscle or a vein, heart valve damage, lead damage, inadequate seating of the terminal connector pin, and presence of an air pocket. Chronic complications include twiddler syndrome, lead fracture, damage to the lead insulation, and lead displacement. Radiologists play an important role in management of patients with CCDs by providing vital information about the device, starting immediately after implantation and continuing throughout its duration in the patient. To fulfill this role, radiologists must have a firm understanding of CCDs and their evolving technology.
Cardiopulmonary Imaging, Section Head
Cleveland Clinic Florida