Epicardial Pacing Wire Removal- What are the Risks?

Many post-cardiac surgery patients have epicardial pacing wires placed.  Once the physician establishes that they are not needed, the wires are removed. This is accomplished by pulling the wires out through the skin.

However, remember that these wires were lightly sutured into the cardiac muscle and when the wires are removed there is a risk of tearing the cardiac wall and causing cardiac tamponade.

Symptoms of tamponade include: increased output into chest tubes (if still in place),  tightness in the chest and or chest pain, difficulty breathing, difficulty breathing, distended neck veins, hypotension, tachycardia, paradoxical pulse.Treatment may include pericariocentesis, or in severe cases a return to the OR.