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J Forensic Sci. 1998 Sep;43(5):969-73.

Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators and the pathologist: comment and cautionary notes.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Ontario, Canada.


This paper briefly reviews the components of, the clinical uses of, the techniques to place, and the complications related to implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs). Information useful in the specific identification of ICDs is presented. A series of recommendations for the autopsy examination or postmortem explantation of ICDs by the pathologist is given. Because of the serious risk of injury to the pathologist possible with postmortem discharges of ICDs which have not been deactivated, and because of the risk of device explosion if the ICD is incinerated, a number of cautionary notes are provided. A brief case with occurrence of accidental postmortem discharge of an active ICD is also presented.

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