FDA approves first subcutaneous implantable defibrillator for patients at risk of sudden cardiac arrest

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Boston Scientific regulatory approval for its S-ICD System, the world’s first and only commercially available subcutaneous implantable defibrillator (S-ICD) for the treatment of patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).

The S-ICD System sits below the skin without the need of leads to be placed into the heart. This leaves the heart and blood vessels untouched, offering patients an alternative to transvenous implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), which require leads to be placed in the heart itself.

“The S-ICD System establishes the first new category of cardiac rhythm management devices since the introduction of cardiac resynchronisation therapy,” said Raul Weiss, associate professor, Clinical, Cardiovascular Medicine at The Ohio State University. “Doctors now have a breakthrough treatment option that provides protection from sudden cardiac arrest without touching the heart.”


Approval of the S-ICD System was based on data from a 330-patient, prospective, non-randomised, multicentre clinical study, which evaluated the safety and effectiveness of the system in patients at risk of SCA. The S-ICD System met the primary endpoints of the study, and results were presented earlier this year at the Heart Rhythm Society 33rd Annual Scientific Sessions. The study results support that the S-ICD System is an important new treatment option for a wide range of primary and secondary prevention patients.


“Each year, thousands of patients indicated for an ICD are not referred to a specialist and remain untreated,” said William T Abraham, director, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at The Ohio State University Heart Center, USA. “The S-ICD System is an important new treatment option that has the potential to improve patient acceptance of ICD therapy.”


Boston Scientific expects to begin a phased launch of the S-ICD System that will expand over time as medical professionals are trained on the safe and effective use of the system. The company acquired the S-ICD System earlier this year when it completed the acquisition of Cameron Health. The system received CE mark in 2009 and is commercially available in many countries in Europe as well as in New Zealand.


About the S-ICD


The S-ICD System is intended to provide defibrillation therapy for the treatment of life-threatening ventricular tachyarrhythmias in patients who do not have symptomatic bradycardia, incessant ventricular tachycardia, or spontaneous, frequently recurring ventricular tachycardia that is reliably terminated with anti-tachycardia pacing.


The S-ICD System is designed to provide the same protection from sudden cardiac arrest as transvenous ICDs. The system has two main components: (1) the pulse generator, which powers the system, monitors heart activity, and delivers a shock if needed, and (2) the electrode, which enables the device to sense the cardiac rhythm and deliver shocks when necessary. Both components are implanted just under the skin-the generator at the side of the chest, and the electrode beside the breastbone. Unlike transvenous ICDs, the heart and blood vessels remain untouched. Implantation with the S-ICD System is straightforward using anatomical landmarks, without the need for fluoroscopy.

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