Outcomes and Complications of Lead Removal: Can We Establish a Risk Stratification Schema for a Collaborative and Effective Approach?

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Removal of an entire cardiovascular implantable electronic device is associated with morbidity and mortality. We sought to establish a risk classification scheme according to the outcomes of transvenous lead removal in a single center, with the goal of using that scheme to guide electrophysiology lab versus operating room extraction.


Consecutive patients undergoing transvenous lead removal from January 2001 to October 2012 at Mayo Clinic were retrospectively reviewed.


A total of 1,378 leads were removed from 652 (age 64 ± 17 years, M 68%) patients undergoing 702 procedures. Mean (standard deviation) lead age was 57.6 (58.8) months. Forty-four percent of leads required laser-assisted extraction. Lead duration (P < 0.001) and an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) lead (P < 0.001) were associated with the need for laser extraction and procedure failure (P < 0.0001 and P = 0.02). The major complication rate was 1.9% and was significantly associated with longer lead duration (odds ratio: 1.2, 95% confidence interval: 1.1–1.3; P < 0.001). High-risk patients (with a >10-year-old pacing or a >5-year-old ICD lead) had significantly higher major events than moderate-risk (with pacing lead 1–10 years old or ICD lead 1–5 years old) and low-risk (any lead ≤1-year-old) patients (5.3%, 1.2%, and 0%, respectively; P < 0.001).


Transvenous lead removal is highly successful, with few serious procedural complications. We propose a risk stratification scheme that may categorize patients as low, moderate, and high risk for lead extraction. Such a strategy may guide which extractions are best performed in the operating room.

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