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Transvenous versus subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillators in young cardiac arrest survivors.

Secondary prevention implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are indicated in young patients presenting with aborted sudden cardiac death (SCD) because of ventricular arrhythmias. Transvenous-ICDs (TV-ICDs) are effective, established therapies supported by evidence. The significant morbidity associated with transvenous leads led to the development of the newer subcutaneous-ICD (S-ICD). This review discusses the clinical considerations when selecting an ICD for the young patient presenting with out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. The major benefits of TV-ICDs are their ability to pace (antitachycardia pacing [ATP], bradycardia support and cardiac resynchronisation therapy [CRT]) and the robust evidence base supporting their use. Other benefits include a longer battery life. Significant complications associated with transvenous leads include pneumothorax and tamponade during insertion and infection and lead failure in the long term. Comparatively, S-ICDs, by virtue of having no intravascular leads, prevent these complications. S-ICDs have been associated with a higher incidence of inappropriate shocks. Patients with an indication for bradycardia pacing, CRT or ATP (documented ventricular tachycardia) are seen as unsuitable for a S-ICD. If venous access is unsuitable or undesirable, S-ICDs should be considered given the patient is appropriately screened. There is a need for further randomised controlled trials to directly compare the two devices. TV-ICDs are an effective therapy for preventing SCD limited by significant lead-related complications. S-ICDs are an important development hindered largely by an inability to pace. Young patients stand to gain the most from a S-ICD as the cumulative risk of lead-related complications is high. A clinical framework to aid decision-making is presented.

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