Pacemakers in children
The heart’s pumping action is controlled by an electrical conduction system that transmits electrical impulses. The inability to transmit the electrical impulse from one area of the heart to another area can cause a complete heart block.
Children may have a complete heart block from birth (congenital complete heart block) or may get it due to inflammation or post surgery/ post intervention. If a child arrives at an emergency with a heart block, a temporary pacemaker may be inserted to regulate the electrical impulses. This may be kept in place for about a week. A permanent pacemaker is then inserted which will regulate the heart.
In general, for infants and smaller children, pacemakers are implanted below the abdominal skin. As the children grow bigger, a bigger pacemaker may be inserted in the chest area.
Depending on the usage of the pacemaker, the battery life may last longer. Patients on pacemakers should get the proper periodic check up from time to time. Children with pacemakers can live normal lives but should be careful not to get pushed or punched near the area where the pacemaker is inserted as this can interfere with the pacemaker function. If this happens, consult your child’s doctor. Ask your child’s doctor about other precautions that may need to be taken.
Illustration of heart with a pacemaker attached
Pacemaker location in the chest