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Published on September 11, 2017


Miniaturized pacemaker reduces complications without compromising outcomes

Gundersen Health System is now using the new Medtronic Micra, the world's smallest pacemaker. It's about the size of a multi-vitamin and less than a tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker. Gone are the wires or leads that once connected the generator/battery—implanted in the chest just under the skin—to the heart.

David Ludden, MD

David Ludden, MD

"The new self-contained pacemaker is implanted directly into the right ventricle of the heart," explains Gundersen electrophysiologist David Ludden, MD. "Because of its small size, the new pacemaker can be inserted in your patient using a minimally invasive, catheter-based procedure. The device is inserted through the femoral artery in the groin. The pacemaker, inside a sheath, is guided to the desired location, unsheathed and affixed securely to the inner wall of the heart."

Clinical trials of the new device found fewer complications:

  • 48 percent fewer major complications than traditional pacemakers
  • 96 percent of patients experienced no major complications by 12-month follow-up
  • No dislodgements or systemic infections
  • Pacing thresholds remained low and stable

Other benefits include:

  • Eliminates pocket-related complications including infections, hematomas and erosion
  • Eliminates lead-related problems such as insulation breaches, breaks, venous obstructions or regurgitation
  • Cosmetically better with no visible sign of a pacemaker under the skin and no chest scar
  • Fewer post-implant activity restrictions

"Battery life is about 12 years. The device can be turned off at the end of service and another pacemaker can be added. If needed, the pacemaker can be retrieved, although in most cases that is not necessary," reports Dr. Ludden. "In addition, your patient can be safely scanned using 1.5T or 3T MRI."

This single-chamber pacemaker is not for all patients including those who are young or those with significant vascular disease causing blockage in the blood vessel used to deliver the pacemaker.

If you have a heart patient that may benefit from the new smaller pacemaker, contact Dr. Ludden for a consult or referral appointment by calling MedLink at (800) 336-5465, or in La Crosse at (608) 775-5465.

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