Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center Implants First Pacemaker Without Wires
Doctors at Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center successfully implanted St Jude Medical Nanostim™ leadless pacemakers into two patients last week at The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital. The procedures were the first in North Carolina. Moses Cone Hospital is one of only two North Carolina hospitals involved in the Nanostim clinical trial.
“We are very excited about the potential of this technology,” says electrophysiologist Dr. James Allred. “Conventional pacemakers are a great and reliable technology. But they have wires connecting them to the heart and these wires are occasionally the Achilles Heel of pacemakers.”
A traditional pacemaker is placed inside the body between the chest and the skin near the shoulder. It connects to the heart through several wires – called leads. The pacemaker sends electrical impulses through the leads to the heart keeping it in the proper rhythm. But the leads are subject to natural wear and tear and can deteriorate over time. The areas around the pacemaker and the leads can become infected, resulting in additional surgery and sometimes removal of the pacemaker -- a procedure associated with some risk.
The Nanostim is a miniature, self-contained pacemaker the size of an AAA battery. The device is inserted through a large blood vessel in the groin and threaded by catheter into the right ventricle. There, it is screwed into the heart tissue like a traditional lead and turned on. The device’s battery is expected to have an average lifespan of more than nine years at 100 percent pacing, or more than 13 years at 50 percent pacing. (Many patients do not require 100 percent pacing.) The Nanostim is designed to be removable, so it can be replaced when the battery is depleted.
Most pacemakers are “dual chamber” systems meaning they synchronize the beat of the heart by sending electrical impulses to upper and lower heart chambers. The Nanostim controls only the ventricle, the heart’s lower and main pumping chamber. “Most people would not qualify for this device because of this, but the technology is a game changer,” says Allred. “I am convinced that if this trial goes well, we will see “dual chamber” leadless pacemakers in the not too distant future.”
The Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center is one of only 50 centers in the U.S. involved in this clinical trial. “That says a lot about the expertise and quality of care we offer at Cone Health Heart and Vascular Center,” says Vice President, Heart and Vascular Center and Imaging Services Rich Lundy. “And it is that expertise and quality that we bring to every heart patient every day.”