Aims After decades of experience and strongly improved technology, service time of pacemaker generators is expected to increase. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a retrospective review of a large cohort of patients with a pacemaker. Methods We reviewed data collected between 1984 and 2006 in the first national Dutch pacemaker registry. This registry covered 96% of all generators implanted. We analysed the time of and reason for explantation of pacemaker generators. A 7-year follow-up interval after first implantation and following replacements was used to analyse changes over time. Results During 22 years of data collection, nearly 97,000 first pacemaker generators were implanted. A total of 27,937 (22.4%) generators were explanted within a mean of 6.3 (standard deviation 3.3) years. Reasons for approximately 60% of these explantations were ‘end of life’ of the pacemaker generator or elective system change. Complications or failures such as infections and recalls accounted for approximately 20% of the explantations. For the remaining 20%, the reasons for explantation had not been registered. Conclusion Despite progress in technology, a substantial proportion of pacemaker generators is explanted before its expected service time, with one in five generators being replaced due to technical failures, infections or other complications. Furthermore, the time interval between pacemaker implantation and explantation due to normal ‘end of life’ (battery EOL) decreased. Infections continue to rank highly as a cause for pacing system replacement, despite all current preventive measures.

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Netherlands Heart Journal
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

de Vries, L., Leening, M., Dijk, A., Hooijschuur, C. A. M., Stricker, B., & van Hemel, N. (2017). Trends in service time of pacemakers in the Netherlands: A long-term nationwide follow-up study. Netherlands Heart Journal, 25(10), 581–591. doi:10.1007/s12471-017-1024-x