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Pediatric Defibrillator and Pacemaker Implantation

If your child has a heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia), we may recommend a pacemaker or defibrillator device to help regulate your child's heartbeat. These are devices that we place directly on or near your child's heart. The device sends an electrical impulse to the heart to help it maintain its normal rhythm.

Pacemaker & Defibrillator Implantation: The Children's National Approach

At Children's National Heart Institute, our electrophysiologists (EPs) are pioneering new ways to approach device implantation for children. For us, innovative arrhythmia solutions are part of both our present and our future.

  • Minimally invasive procedures. We use the least invasive procedure possible so your child recovers faster. Our EP center is unique in the region for using a minimally invasive approach to treat arrhythmia disorders in children.
  • Safe, experienced care. Our EPs have more than 20 years of experience performing pacemaker and defibrillator implantation procedures on children. After the procedure, children recover in our renowned Cardiac Procedure Recovery Room (CPRU). In the CPRU, pediatric nurses and staff support and care for your child as he or she recovers.
  • Specialized devices. We treat our littlest patients with specialized devices and procedures, tailored to their small heart anatomy. We use our extensive knowledge and experience in the field to adapt pacemaker and defibrillator products and make them suitable for children.
  • Ongoing research. We are actively involved in research, working with pacemaker and defibrillator companies to devise even smaller devices and less invasive ways of performing the implantation procedure.

Pacemakers and Defibrillators: How They Work

Pacemakers and defibrillators are similar devices. Here's what they each do:

  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). An ICD helps control arrhythmias that are life threatening or could lead to sudden cardiac arrest. During these arrhythmias, your child's heart can't pump blood well. The ICD shocks the heart in order to restore the heart’s normal rhythm.
  • Pacemaker. A pacemaker sends small electrical signals to the heart muscle. We usually use pacemakers to treat less dangerous arrhythmias, such as a slow heart rhythm.

Lead Extraction

A lead (pronounced "leed") is the wire of the pacemaker or ICD that delivers the electric signal to the heart muscle. A lead extraction is when we need to remove one or more of these wires from inside the heart. This may be due to:

  • Damage to the lead
  • Scar tissue forming at the tip of the lead
  • An infection developing at the lead
  • A clot or scar tissue blocking the vein

If we determine your child needs lead extraction, we will discuss with you in detail, including the reasons for the extraction and next steps. Our EP team consists of nationally renowned experts in lead extractions. We use specialized equipment, including laser technology, to provide the safest, most effective extraction procedure for your child.

Contact Us

For more information, call us at 202-476-2020.

Children's Team

Children's Team


Charles Berul

Charles Berul

Division Chief, Cardiology
Co-Director, Children's National Heart Institute
Jeffrey Moak

Jeffrey Moak

Director, Electrophysiology Program



Our pediatric electrophysiologists perform ablations and other procedures to correct abnormal heart rhythms, with a success rate close to 98 percent. Learn more about Cardiac Electrophysiology.

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