By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Pacemaker cells – or just pacemakers – are located in our hearts and are responsible for regulating the heartbeat. Sometimes, these cells don’t work correctly, and doctors need to replace them with an artificial (manmade) pacemaker to keep the heart going. Well, earlier this month, medical professionals from Austria successfully implanted the world’s smallest artificial pacemaker… without surgery!
Typically, doctors would have to cut into a patient’s chest and carefully connect the device to their heart, while inserting wires and pulse generators through the veins. The doctors from Austria avoided this operation by cutting into a major thigh vein and inserting a new miniature pacemaker called Micra Transcatheter Pacing System (Micra TPS). According to its manufacturer, Medtronic, this device is the smallest in the whole world. At just 24 millimeters and less than 1 centimeter in volume, it’s one-tenth the size of average pacemakers.
Since Micra TPS comes with two tiny prongs that directly touch the heart, there’s no need for leads – wires that wind their way to the heart to keep it beating. “Because of its small size and unique design, the Micra TPS can be introduced directly into the heart via a minimally invasive procedure, without the need for leads,” said Clemens Steinwender, a heart expert at Linz General Hospital in Austria.
Medtronic plans to enroll almost 800 patients in a worldwide experiment to test the effectiveness of their new pacemaker.
Featured image courtesy of Medtronics. Image of pacemaker inside heart courtesy of Brian Buntz on YouTube.