Leadless pacemakers are the newest technological advance in heart pacing. As the name suggests, these pacemakers perform much in the way that traditional pacemakers do, however they do not require wires into the heart. They are about the size of a vitamin and is fully self-contained. This makes them about 90% smaller than a traditional pacemaker. The leadless pacing system may be an option to replace a traditional single chamber ventricular pacemaker. Of course, it cannot replace a biventricular pacemaker system.
How a leadless pacemaker is implanted
Leadless pacemakers take advantage of one of the most advanced techniques in cardiac electrophysiology – the cardiac catheter. A small incision is made in the groin area and a guide wire and catheter sheath is threaded up the femoral vein to the heart. A catheter with the leadless pacemaker is then deployed. The pacemaker is placed in the right ventricle of the heart. The pacemaker is affixed to the myocardium. It is tested with a small pull to make sure it won’t dislodge. Its signal is then tested and the catheter is removed. All of this is done under sedation and in an advanced EP lab.
Benefits of a leadless pacemaker
- Less invasive as the procedure is performed using a catheter and there are no incisions, batteries under the skin or leads to thread to the heart
- Less chance of failure as there are no leads to separate from the heart
- Cosmetically superior to as there is no bulky battery generator under the skin
- Excellent battery life approximating that of a traditional pacemaker – up to 12 years
Risks and considerations
To be sure, the leadless pacing system has many benefits, but it is not without risk. There are the inherent risks of any catheter procedure involving the heart including pain, blood loss and infection at the incision site, damage to the veins used to access the heart and damage to the heart structures itself.
Further, the leadless pacing system is not for everyone. Those that require a dual chamber pacing system will not qualify for the procedure.
Dr. Banker will offer guidance as to best options for pacing your heart during consultation.