Friday, January 10, 2014

The Evolution of Pacemakers

For over 100 years doctors have been conducting experiments using electricity to stimulate the heart, with various levels of "success." The first pacemaker was implanted in a human in 1958 and although the recipient had to have it replaced many times over the course of his life, the recipient, Arne Larsson (viewed above), outlived both the inventor of the device and the surgeon who implanted the device(s) in his heart!

As many people know, the first company to make an implantable pacemaker was Medtronics. Initially the device was rather large (see photo of the implantable device above in Arne's hand) and it included wires (leads) plus a box that contained controls for the device. I am amazed by the history of the artificial pacemaker and the fact that Medtronics has not rested on its laurels. Constantly revising and improving their devices, they have now come up with something so remarkable, it seems like science fiction!

What is science fact, though, is that Medtronics has recently unveiled the world's smallest pacemaker yet! At one-tenth the size of a regular pacemaker, this device is tiny but its size is not the only feature that sets this pacemaker apart from the pacemakers of yesteryear. What makes this device so unique is that it doesn't require any wires (or leads)! This means there is one less potential complication for pacemaker recipients to have to worry about! The device is introduced directly into the heart via a catheter inserted through the femoral artery, which should reduce the opportunity for infections and result in a shorter, less complicated hospital stay.

This device is known as the Micra and in the photo above, you can see what it would look like inside a human heart. This is totally amazing! It is currently being tested in Austria.

For more information, read Medtronic's press release: Medtronic's Smallest Pacemaker

Please visit Baby Hearts Press at for resources for the congenital heart defect community.

No comments: