World's smallest pacemaker available in KC

Posted at 4:49 PM, May 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-12 19:15:42-04

The world’s smallest pacemaker is now FDA approved and has already helped several people in Kansas City.

"It's wonderful, you know. It's about the size of a .22 bullet,” said Platte City native David Rowell.

Following a series of serious medical conditions, the 80-year-old jumped at the opportunity to get the Micra one year ago during the beginning of a global clinical trial, one in which Kansas City was one of the first to partake.

"I just went by the size of it. I say, it's guaranteed for 10 years, it's got a computer in it, a battery in it, hell yeah, can't even see it,” said Rowell.

Like other pacemakers, the Micra lasts about 10 years, yet is 93 percent smaller. It is also leadless, meaning there are no wires.

Inserting the new pacemaker is also much less invasive than its older counterparts. Instead of opening the chest and planting the device beneath the skin, the Micra is inserted through the groin via catheter.  

"I think this is really the future for all pacemakers,” said Dr. Sanjaya Gupta of St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City.

Gupta said the only downside right now is that the Micra only works for cardiac patients with a lower heart condition, something only 8 to 10 percent of current patients have.

"This only paces the bottom part of the heart. So right now it's only indicative for people who have a slow heart rhythm on the bottom half of the heart … So future devices that will come will have one of these on the bottom part and one on the top part of the heart, and they'll talk to each other. And that will be the next thing that will come and I think that will allow us to offer this to even more patients,” he said.

Gupta said maintenance is fairly simple. The device needs to be checked by a doctor once a year while a home monitor checks it periodically throughout the year.

What’s wrong with the old pacemakers?

According to Gupta:

  • Older pacemakers are more prone to infection.
  • Narrowing of vessels around the device.
  • Wires can break.

According to research disclosed from the clinical trial of 725 patients worldwide, the Micra had a 99.2 percent implant success rate and had 51 percent fewer complications than traditional pacemakers. 



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