What is an implanted pacemaker?

A variety of rhythm disorders can be controlled with an artificial pacemaker. Slow heart rates, such as heart block, are the most common reason to use a pacemaker. But new technology now lets doctors treat some fast heart rates with a pacemaker, too. An artificial pacemaker is a small device (1 to 2 ounces, 1.5 by 1.5 inches). It’s put inside the body and connected to the heart with a thin wire. It works by sending small, painless amounts of electricity to the heart to make it beat.

Children’s pacemakers may be placed under the skin in one of several locations. Young children (infants, toddler, preschool, and young school-aged children) often have the pacemaker generator placed in the abdomen, since the fatty tissue found there can help protect the generator from normal everyday childhood activities such as playing. As a child gets older (nearing adolescence), the generator is often placed in the shoulder area, just under the collarbone.