Once a pacemaker is implanted, it is periodically checked to ensure the device is operational and performing appropriately. Depending on the frequency set by the following physician, the device can be checked as often as is necessary. Routine pacemaker checks are typically done in-office every six (6) months, though will vary depending upon patient/device status and remote monitoring availability.
At the time of in-office follow-up, the device will be interrogated to perform diagnostic testing. These tests include:
Sensing: the ability of the device to "see" intrinsic cardiac activity (Atrial and ventricular depolarization).
Impedance: A test to measure lead integrity. Large and/or sudden increases in impedance can be indicative of a lead fracture while large and/or sudden decreases in impedance can signify a breach in lead insulation.
Threshold: this test confirms the minimum amount of energy (Both volts and pulse width) required to reliably depolarize (capture) the chamber being tested.
As modern pacemakers are "on-demand", meaning that they only pace when necessary, device longevity is affected by how much it is utilized. Other factors affecting device longevity include programmed output and algorithms (features) causing a higher level of current drain from the battery.
An additional aspect of the in-office check is to examine any events that were stored since the last follow-up. These are typically stored based on specific criteria set by the physician and specific to the patient. Some devices have the availability to display intracardiac electrograms of the onset of the event as well as the event itself. This is especially helpful in diagnosing the cause or origin of the event and making any necessary programming changes.