Scottsdale Healthcare Testing New Defibrillator

Scottsdale Healthcare is the only Arizona hospital system testing a new under-the-skin device that uses an electrical shock to interrupt possibly fatal heart rhythms, restoring a normal heartbeat for patients at high risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

The first Arizona patient received the device Thursday at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center. Scottsdale Healthcare is the only Phoenix area hospital and one of only 35 in the world participating in the study.

The subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator (S-ICD) uses life-saving electrical impulses under the skin near the heart, instead of placing electrical wires through veins to access the heart used in conventional methods.

Clinical trials to study the S-ICD’s safety and effectiveness are underway at Scottsdale Healthcare under the guidance of Thomas Mattioni, MD, medical director of electrophysiology.

“The S-ICD is unique because it is implanted entirely under the skin and does not need wire placement inside the heart, which should simplify surgery and eliminate the need for x-rays, reducing patient exposure to radiation,” says Dr. Mattioni.

“This could be a big step forward in improving the safety of a well-established and highly effective therapy,” he says Dr. Mattioni.

Potential patients will be screened to determine eligibility for the device study at Scottsdale Healthcare. Those with implanted conventional ICDs are not eligible, unless removal of that ICD is required for other reasons, explains Dr. Mattioni.

“Qualified patients are those whose cardiac diagnosis indicates the need for an ICD, among other criteria,” he says. “Our goal is to significantly improve on current ICD therapy and reduce complications associated with transvenous leads, to simplify device implantation, programming and follow up, and ultimately save more lives.”

Sudden cardiac arrest:

  • Is an abrupt electrical malfunction of the heart known as ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation.
  • There is no blood flow to the body or brain, and it is fatal in 95% of cases.
  • Causes 350,000 deaths annually in the U.S.
  • ICDs are proven to be 98% effective in stopping dangerous heart rhythms, yet only one-third of those eligible for ICD therapy are treated.


Sudden cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack, which is a loss of heart muscle caused by blockage is a vessel that supplies blood to the heart.

Manufactured by Cameron Health, Inc. of San Clemente, Calif., the S-ICD detected 100% of induced and spontaneous episodes of irregular heart rhythms in early studies  published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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