Leadless Pacemaker Is One-Tenth Size Of Normal Pacemaker And Doesn't Require Surgery

The world's first leadless pacemaker is being introduced into the UK.

Smaller than a AAA battery, it is less than 10% the size of a conventional pacemaker and does not require surgery.

The device does not have any of the wires of a typical pacemaker thanks to a built-in battery that lasts nine to 13 years.

The lack of wires removes the chance they can become infected, dislodged or damaged. This means patients can lead normal lives rather than having restrictions placed on the amount of activity they do.

A pacemaker can greatly improve a patient's quality of life and for some people it can be life-saving.

They are used to regulate the heartbeat in people with heart failure, whose condition means their heart can pump out of synch.

Others need them because their heart beats too fast or too slow and this is not effectively controlled by medication.

Fitting the new Nanostim leadless pacemaker does not require surgery, cutting the risk of complications and reducing discomfort to the patient and scarring.

It is implanted directly into the heart through a vein with a steerable catheter in a procedure lasting around 28 minutes.

Usually, in a conventional pacemaker procedure, an incision is made in the upper chest and one or more leads are guided through a vein into the heart.

The pacemaker is then connected to the leads and inserted beneath the skin.

The new device was given CE mark approval recently and its manufacturer St Jude Medical, is planning on submitting information to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice).

This could mean patients are able to get the pacemaker on the NHS. For now, those who are keen for one would have to pay privately.

The Nanostim pacemaker is designed to be easily retrievable so that the battery can be replaced.

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Dr Johannes Sperzel of the Kerckhoff Klinik in Bad Nauheim, Germany, said the pacemaker was the future of cardiac pacing.

"For the past 40 years the therapeutic promise of leadless pacing has been discussed, but until now, no one has been able to overcome the technical challenges," he said.

"This revolutionary technology offers my patients a safe, minimally-invasive option for pacemaker delivery that eliminates leads and surgical pockets. This is the future of cardiac pacing."

Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said more work needed to be done.

He said: "This is a potentially exciting development but it's early days.

"Leadless pacemakers like this one have only been used on a handful of patients and there is still some work to be done to improve their performance and reliability, and understand better the implications of their use."