Medtronic Micra Pacemaker
18th May 2016
Despite working in a high-tech hospital, I still marvel every time I see the impact of new advances on the lives of patients. This week, we married technological advances with exceptional skill to insert a tiny pacemaker without leads or box into the heart of an 82-year-old patient.
The pacemaker is called the Micra, produced in Galway by Medtronic, and is smaller than an AAA battery. Because there are no leads, there’s no issue with blocked veins and because there’s no box, there’s no issue with slippage or the infections this can cause.
One of the biggest issues for the patients with pacemakers is erosion where, over time, the older pacemakers need to be completely removed as they slip, become more visible under the skin, more uncomfortable and in some cases, can cause infection. Complete removal of a pacemaker brings risk. The size, location and leadless nature of the Micra are designed to eliminate these complications.
And what is really amazing is that the procedure is no more than half an hour long because the pacemaker is inserted via cathether through a vein in the leg. This means that a consultant inserts it with a tube and works it through the patient’s body, watching its progress on a video monitor. The approach is minimally invasive, causing minimal pain and trauma since the patient doesn’t need to be opened up.
Our patient watched the entire procedure on the same screen which the consultant, Dr Jonathan Lyne, used to insert the pacemaker. The insertion is so minimally invasive that it will be a day procedure with patients discharged within the day of the insertion, providing no complications arise.
The patient says he feels great after the procedure and is unaware of the pacemaker’s presence. He said: “The whole thing was easier than going for a hair cut. I was sedated but I was still fully alert and able to watch the whole process on the screen as it happened. It was fascinating”.
After the success of this procedure, it would be hoped that soon, the Micra will be the norm for pacemakers in appropriate patients. Dr Lyne is the only consultant who is trained to perform this procedure and we at Blackrock Clinic were very proud to be the first hospital in Ireland to oversee such a success story.