Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) during 2022 Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

Colbrelli is heading home after surgery to implant life-saving ICD device

The subcutaneous defibrillator (ICD) sits under the skin and “works to correct the rhythm of the heart if it’s needed in extreme cases.”

by Kit Nicholson

photography by Cor Vos

Sonny Colbrelli has been discharged from hospital after undergoing surgery to implant a subcutaneous defibrillator (ICD) following his collapse at the Volta a Catalunya.

The Bahrain Victorious rider was admitted to the Cardiology Clinic of the University of Padua on Saturday 26 March, five days after requiring emergency medical treatment for cardiac arrhythmia at the finish of stage 1 in Sant Feliu de Guíxols, which included chest compressions and defibrillation.

In the days immediately following the incident, initial tests at the Girona hospital where he was recovering suggested that there wasn’t too much cause for concern, but the reason for his collapse was still unclear.

Since his transfer back to Italy, Colbrelli has been under the care of Professor Domenico Corrado, director of the Genetic Cardiomyopathy and Sports Cardiology Unit in Padua, a centre of excellence for diagnosing and treating arrhythmogenic heart muscle diseases. Following more thorough cardiovascular evaluation, the 31-year-old had an ICD implanted on Thursday 31 March.

“In Padova, the athlete underwent comprehensive clinical, genetic and imaging evaluation to identify the cause of the arrhythmia that led to cardiac arrest and the most appropriate therapy,” Professor Corrado said. “The decision to implant a life-saving device has been shared by Colbrelli who received a subcutaneous ICD. The device works to correct the rhythm of the heart if it’s needed in extreme cases.”

What exactly is a subcutaneous defibrillator or ICD?

An ICD is an electronic unit that sits under the skin, with wires leading to the heart, which constantly monitors the heart rhythm. In the event of a rapid and/or abnormal rhythm, it delivers a pulse of electric energy to the heart via the leads, returning the heart to a normal, healthy rate.

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