JONESBORO, Ark. -- [April 25, 2017] -- This week, St. Bernards became the first hospital in Arkansas to offer the world’s smallest pacemaker for patients with bradycardia.
The Micra® Transcatheter Pacing System (TPS) is a new type of heart device that provides patients with the most advanced pacing technology at one-tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker. The first procedure at St. Bernards was performed on April 24 by Dr. Devi Gopinath Nair, MD, FHRS, the director of cardiac electrophysiology at St. Bernards Heart and Vascular Center.
Bradycardia is a condition characterized by a slow or irregular heart rhythm, usually fewer than 60 beats per minute. At this rate, the heart is unable to pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the body during normal activity or exercise, causing dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath or fainting spells. Pacemakers are the most common way to treat bradycardia to help restore the heart's normal rhythm and relieve symptoms by sending electrical impulses to the heart to increase the heart rate.
Physicians at St. Bernards have elected to use Medtronic’s Micra TPS because unlike traditional pacemakers, the device does not require cardiac wires (leads) or a surgical “pocket” under the skin to deliver a pacing therapy. Instead, the device is small enough to be delivered through a catheter and implanted directly into the heart with small tines, providing a safe alternative to conventional pacemakers without the complications associated with leads –- all while being cosmetically invisible. The Micra TPS is also designed to automatically adjust pacing therapy based on a patient’s activity levels.
The Micra TPS also incorporates a retrieval feature to enable retrieval of the device if necessary; however, the device is designed to be left in the body. For patients who need more than one heart device, the miniaturized Micra TPS was designed with a unique feature that enables it to be permanently turned off so it can remain in the body and a new device can be implanted without risk of electrical interaction.
The Micra TPS was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April 2016 and has been granted Medicare reimbursement, allowing broad patient access to the novel pacing technology.