First Non-Surgical Leadless Pacemaker Implanted

"Definitely the way of the future," says doctor who is implanting the new device.

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     Developed for patients with bradycardia, a heart rate that is too slow, the device is placed directly in the patient's heart without the visible lump, scar and insulated wires (called leads) required for conventional pacemakers. The hospital is one of only 50 in the United States and Canada offering the new device.

    The leadless pacemaker is one tenth the size of a conventional pacemaker and the least invasive pacing technology available today. Implanted through a vein in the leg with a steerable catheter, the device is screwed directly to the inside of the heart. The non-surgical procedure takes only 10-15 minutes, as opposed to about an hour, and no surgery means less chance of infection and much quicker recovery time.

    "This is definitely the way of the future," said Dr. Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, the electrophysiologist at The University of Kansas Hospital who implanted the first device. "While pacemakers have saved countless thousands of lives over the past 7 decades since the first devices were implanted, one of the major drawbacks has been complications related to the pacing lead which runs from the battery implanted in the chest and delivers the electrical impulse to the heart. This new device is so small and by attaching it directly to the inside of the heart, all the problems related to the old-fashioned pacemaker lead are eliminated.This is a big step forward in patient treatment and a milestone for cardiac rhythm management in the United States," said Lakkireddy.

     Video includes sound with Nellie DeJoia (pronounced Da-Joy-uh), Fairway, KS,  1st leadless pacemaker patient, Barbara Moore, Leawood, KS, 2nd leadless pacemaker patient, Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy, M.D., electrophysiologist at The University of Kansas Hospital, still shot of traditional pacemaker, shot of new device next to a quarter to show size, animation of device turning from one end to another, animation of device being threaded through leg and being screwed into heart, various operating room shots of first procedure. Animation is courtesy St. Jude Medical.