St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Successfully Implants One of the World’s Smallest Pacemakers

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St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor has successfully inserted its first implant of the one of the world’s smallest pacemakers — about one-tenth the size of a conventional device — as part of a global clinical trial.

"This miniaturized technology is designed to provide patients with the advanced pacing technology of traditional pacemakers via a minimally invasive approach," says Dr. Timothy Shinn, medical director of the electrophysiology lab at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, who implanted the pacemaker. “If positive, the results of the trial could potentially benefit the more than one million people globally who received pacemakers each year."

Shinn says the Medtronic Micra Transcatheter Pacing System is comparable in size to a large vitamin. He says the pacemaker is inserted through a catheter in the femoral vein in the upper thigh. He says once the pacemaker is positioned, it’s attached to the heart wall and can be repositioned or retrieved if necessary. It delivers electrical impulses that pace the heart through an electrode at the end of the device.

Shinn says unlike current pacemaker implant procedures, the implant doesn’t require a surgical incision in the chest, creating a “pocket” under the skin, which could be a potential source for complications.

Of the first 140 patients who have received the implant procedure, 100 percent were successful. Patients ranged from 21 to 94 years old.

The 537-bed St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor is part of the five-hospital St. Joseph Mercy Health System. St. Joseph Mercy Health System is a member of Livonia-based Trinity Health. 

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