What it's for

Pacemakers are used in patients who have bradycardia—a slow heart beat. When the pacemaker detects that your heart rate is too slow, it emits electrical impulses. Each of these impulses triggers your heart to beat, helping it to speed up and attain a more regular rhythm.

How it's done

Pacemakers are implanted during a simple surgical procedure. The implantation of a pacemaker is done by an electrophysiologist, a doctor who specializes in heart rhythm disorders.

You are given medication through an IV to help you relax, but you remain awake during the procedure. You are also given an anesthetic to numb the skin at the site of the incision. Your heart rate and blood pressure are monitored throughout the procedure.

An incision is made just under your left collarbone. The leads (wires) from the pacemaker are directed down your veins until they make contact with your heart. The other ends of the leads attach to the generator of the pacemaker, which is placed in a pocket created beneath your skin.

The surgery to place a pacemaker typically takes from 2-3 hours.

When your pacemaker is operational, it will monitor your heart to determine if it is beating too slow. If it detects a slow heart beat, the pacemaker will emit a series of electrical impulses to bring your heart back up to a normal pace.


The surgery to have a pacemaker implanted is considered very safe and complications are rare. The following are some of the risks of having a pacemaker implanted:

  • Infection
  • Allergic reaction to medications
  • Bleeding or bruising
  • Swelling
  • Damage to veins
  • Bleeding around the heart
  • Blood leaking in heart at the site of leads

Technology and expertise at URMC

The University of Rochester Medical Center is considered a world leader in electrophysiology. Our research on heart rhythm disorders and treatments has helped improve treatments for patients around the globe.

We have three fully-equipped electrophysiology labs for the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. Our labs are staffed by nurses and technicians who work exclusively with patients who have heart rhythm disorders.

The Electrophysiology Lab at URMC implants thousands of pacemakers every year.

Instructions for patients

Would you like to download the instructions you will need the day of your procedure? Click on the link below.

Pacemaker Instructions

Download Patient Consent Form

Who to contact

For more information on getting a pacemaker at URMC, please call us at (585) 275-4775.


Medicine of the Highest Order