Placing an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) requires minor surgery, which usually is done in a hospital. You'll be given medicine right before the surgery that will help you relax and may make you fall asleep.
Your doctor will give you medicine to numb the area where he or she will put the ICD so you don't feel any pain. Your doctor also may give you antibiotics to prevent infection.
First, your doctor will thread the ICD wires through a vein to the correct location in your heart. An x-ray "movie" of the wires as they pass through your vein and into your heart will help your doctor place them.
Once the wires are in place, your doctor will make a small cut into the skin of your chest or abdomen. He or she will then slip the ICD's small metal box through the cut and just under your skin. The box contains the battery, pulse generator, and computer.
Once the ICD is in place, your doctor will test it. You'll be given medicine to help you sleep during this testing so you don't feel any electrical pulses. Then your doctor will sew up the cut. The entire surgery takes a few hours.
This answer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.