Tiny MRI Safe Pacemaker Makes Big Difference for Heart Patients at Community Hospital

Tiny-MRI-Safe-Pacemaker-Makes-Big-Difference-for-Heart-Patients-at-Community-HospitalCardiac electrophysiologists at Community Hospital, Munster are first in Northwest Indiana to implant a new tiny pacemaker that requires no incision or skin pocket and has no lead. Need an MRI? No problem.

The new FDA-approved Medtronic Micra leadless pacemaker is the world’s smallest pacemaker designed to treat bradycardia or slow heartbeat. Comparable to the size of a large everyday vitamin, the Micra Transcatheter Pacing System does not require a surgical incision or the creation of a pocket under the skin or the use of leads to deliver pacing therapy. Unlike many other pacemakers, the Micra is approved for safe use with MRI technology.

“Cardiac electrophysiologists at Community Healthcare System have a deep commitment to delivering the latest, most state-of-the-art treatments available for heart rhythm disorders,” said Wassim Ballany, MD, electrophysiologist on staff at Community Hospital, Munster. “When this advanced device became available upon FDA approval, we worked with hospital administration to make this an option for appropriate patients.”

At less than 1/10 the size of traditional pacemakers, the Micra transcatheter pacing system is able to be delivered directly into the heart through a catheter inserted into the large femoral vein in the leg. The Micra pacemaker is attached to the heart with small prongs that secure the device which delivers electrical pulses as needed to pace the heart. In contrast to traditional pacemakers, a lead is not necessary to implant the Micra device in the heart. It eliminates potential medical complications arising from a chest incision or from a wire lead running from a conventional pacemaker into the heart.

About 1.5 million Americans have pacemakers, devices that send electrical pulses to the heart to help maintain a regular rhythm, according to medical technology developer Medtronic.

Bradycardia is a slower than normal heart rate that may occur from congenital heart disease, the natural aging process, side effects from some heart medications or electrical malfunctions. The hearts of adults at rest usually beat between 60 and 100 times a minute. For those with bradycardia, the heart beats fewer than 60 times a minute.

Bradycardia can be serious if the heart doesn't pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the body. As a result, those with bradycardia may feel dizzy or have chronic lack of energy, shortness of breath, or even fainting spells. The Micra is a single chamber pacemaker that when implanted can correct bradycardia and help the heart maintain an appropriate rate.

Electronic implantable devices such as pacemakers and medical imaging are important technological advances, particularly in older, more fragile patients, Ballany said. Over a lifetime, more patients will need an MRI than not.

“It has been estimated that up to 50 percent of patients with standard cardiac rhythm devices who need an MRI aren’t able to get one,” said Ballany.

Micra was designed, tested and approved to be used safely with MRI scanners, Ballany said. This offers advantages to both doctors and their patients who need to undergo an MRI.

For more information about new devices and surgical techniques offered by the hospitals of Community Healthcare System, visit our web site at https://www.comhs.org/services/heart-care/advanced-heart-and-vascular-institute/ep-lab. To find a cardiologist or electrophysiologist on staff at the hospitals of Community Healthcare System, call 219-836-3477 or toll-free 866-836-3477.