Sparrow Doctor Implants Mini-Pacemaker Without Surgery

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Sparrow Hospital is among one of the first in the nation to implant a new miniature-sized pacemaker in a patient without surgery.

Dr. John Ip, a cardiologist, performed the procedure. Sparrow says the mini-pacemaker was implanted directly inside the patient's heart using a catheter through an artery in the groin.

Dr. Ip says the new technology in pacemaker design is an option for patients with a slow heartbeat. It may ultimately be safer for patients because it doesn't have electrical leads, and doesn't need to be inserted under the skin of the chest like current cardiac pacemakers.
"This lead less system, I believe, is the most significant breakthrough in pacemaker technology in the past 20 years. It virtually eliminates the need for a wire going through the patients heart."

One of the first patients to receive the new device at Sparrow was Charles Meade of Haslett. Meade suffered from a slow heart rate and had never had a pacemaker. He liked the idea of not having a surgical incision on his chest, or a wire through his heart. "When I had the opportunity to use the new one, after some thought, that was what we elected to do."

Since getting the new mini-pacemaker, Meade says he's feeling a lot better. His once sluggish heart, now beats much faster. Dr. Ip says, "His heart rate was in the 40's and now the pacemaker heart rate is in the 70's, so it will give him more energy."

Sparrow is the only hospital in Michigan participating in the clinical trial. Dr. Ip says the device costs about $9,000 and lasts up to 11 years. He says a traditional pacemaker goes for about $6,000 and lasts for about 5-7 years.

The new pacemaker is called the Nanostim device. It's made by St. Jude Medical, and is being tested for safety and efficacy in an international clinical trial. The Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved the new pacemaker.