Abandoned pacemaker lead... or?

jyg

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This is really a two-parter.

1. After my AVR in 2013 the physician's assistant who removed my post-op pacemaker leads screwed up. The lead slipped from her fingers and snapped back into my chest. My surgeon's lieutenant assured me it wasn't a problem and especially not compared to opening me up not even a week after AVR to fish around for it. I pushed a bit but he reassured me and I let it go. I had lost a lot of weight and so the lead was poking from behind the now healed exit hole. So, within a couple of weeks I asked again, and again the surgeon reassured me. Weight gained after a few months made me all nice and squishy, so no more poking in the skin and I haven't thought about it in years. So question #1, should I have made a bigger stink about this? I know, I can't change history, but I wondering if I shouldn't've taken this lying down, so to speak.

2. Like I said, I haven't thought about this in a couple of years and last night I laid down in a very stretched position on the couch and suddenly got a terrible sharp pain in the left side of my chest. (The lost lead was the one from the right-side hole, but I know it must go to the left-of-middle to get to the heart, and it could travel in ~5 years). I used to be paranoid about every little feeling in my chest. Now I'm a season post-AVR patient who ignores just about everything. But this got me to jump straight up. My first through was the abandoned lead. The pain went away just as quickly, but it left it a bit sore/full feeling in the front-left side, under my lower ribs. I went to bed, and felt OK in the morning, didn't really think about it. I bent down into the freezer to get the waffles for my kids' breakfast and a very small tearing feeling came back and it was sore/full again. I hate wasting my time at the ER or docs office. I want to believe that I'm just a lazy fat ass who just pulled a muscle or connective tissue... or if my paranoia is correct and I caused that lead to jam into something. What would you do?

And then I stupidly read this: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/09/29/old-heart-device-wires-tied-to-complications-death-risk.html

What I probably will do is go exercise and see if it kills me. If not, I'll ignore it. ... when I used to tune cars with turbos and a point in the fuel map was causing detonation, the rule was to not just drive through it. You stop everything, fix the map and start other. Otherwise, you might blow the engine. :D

Just whining... thanks for listening :)
 

pellicle

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Hi

while I know you were venting, I'd say a few things:

the first is that I've not heard of this before, and wonder if its common? That it seemed to "snap back" suggests that it was caught on something, cos mine just pulled out like a thread. Did it feel like it was tugging on something?

I sort of concur with your Dr that going in soon after surgery would be a big risk and many of us have wires hanging around from older pacemakers, so I would think the risk of leaving it in is lower than the increased risk of complications or infections.

It will be interesting to hear if you have any other feelings from it.

Best Wishes
 

tom in MO

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Jan 17, 2012
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MO USA
You can always call up your surgeon and ask. It should be a "no-charge" answer. Good luck. When they took mine out it was a weird "one-of-a-kind" feeling. At the time I thought it'd be one of the few times where I know the feeling is for sure coming from my heart. Mine was removed by some kind of doctor not a PA and they used disposable locking forceps, so I don't think it could have "snapped back."
 

jyg

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Oct 14, 2013
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Location
San Francisco, CA
Thanks for the replies you guys. Obviously, I'm still alive, and I'm not having further pain, etc. It must've been muscle related.

Yes, it did feel weird getting the leads taken out... though the catheter was much more disconcerting. If I recall correctly, and I might not be, the PA had the first one out and then pinched the end of the second. It was perhaps less than 4cm out of my chest before it slipped from her pinched fingers. I sure do wish she had used forceps :-/

I've been losing weight again. If I can really get down to 155lbs/70kg, depending upon where the wire is, it might start poking again. If that happens, I just might get it out (at the hospital :D )

Thanks again!
 

epstns

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Dec 26, 2002
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Chicago area
Might not be a "problem" any more. Over time, the body often builds scar tissue around foreign objects within the body. By now, there may be enough tissue around that wire that it no longer can cause problems. Anyway, I hope that's what happens.

I've had to have a permanent pacemaker lead replaced, and THAT was a real big thing. Be glad you don't have to deal with that one.
 
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