In a giant leap forward in pacemaker technology, Ohio State University scientists have developed a tiny pill-sized device that can be implanted like a conventional pacemaker.
Tests of the mini-pacemaker, implanted in a Columbus heart patient at the OSU Wexner Medical Center, demonstrated it is a viable alternative to traditional devices that keep the heart beating normally.
Unlike conventional pacemakers, which require a chest incision and electrical leads that run through a vein to the heart, the OSU device is wireless and is threaded through a catheter, then attached directly to the heart muscle.
"With this investigational device, the battery, the pacing electrodes, everything is in a little piece of metal sitting inside the heart. We believe that will eliminate a lot of risk for infection and complications," said John Hummel, M.D., a cardiologist and principal investigator of the trial at Ohio State.
The patient – 77-year-old Mary Lou Trejo of Columbus – had been suffering from atrial fibrillation for years. Her heart had slowed, despite medication and other treatments to restore rhythm, so she was an ideal candidate to test the device.
"The new pacemaker sounded so simple, and I have always thought research is important, so I thought this is a way I could contribute," Trejo said, in a press release issued by OSU.
The researchers now plan to test the device in a larger group of heart patients for safety and effectiveness. The trial will enroll 780 patients in 50 centers worldwide. Investigators are expected to report initial results later this year, once the first 60 patients have been followed for three months.
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