Cardiologists at Children's National Health System, in collaboration with Medtronic, have developed a prototype of a miniature pacemaker for use in infants. The pacemaker is only the size of an almond and can be implanted through a small one centimeter incision below the rib cage. The tiny medical device would eliminate the need for invasive open-chest surgery to properly implant pacemakers in infants. The results would be shorter, more efficient, surgeries that are less invasive and painful leading to faster recovery times and reduced costs for the patient.
“Placing a pacemaker in a small child is different than operating on an adult, due to their small chest cavity and narrow blood vessels,” says Rohan Kumthekar, M.D., a cardiology fellow working in Dr. Charles Berul’s bioengineering lab at the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, part of Children’s National Health System. “By eliminating the need to cut through the sternum or the ribs and fully open the chest to implant a pacemaker, the current model, we can cut down on surgical time and help alleviate pain.”
From the Children's National Health System article: "With the help of a patented two-channel, self-anchoring access port previously developed by Berul’s research group, the operator can insert a camera into the chest to directly visualize the entire procedure. They can then insert a sheath (narrow tube) through the second channel to access the pericardial sac, the plastic-like cover around the heart. The leadlet, the short extension of the miniature pacemaker, can be affixed onto the surface of the heart under direct visualization. The final step is to insert the pacemaker into the incision and close the skin, leaving a tiny scar instead of two large suture lines."
Read more about the miniature pacemaker for infants at Children's National Health System.