A pacemaker is a device that sends small electrical impulses to the heart muscle to maintain a suitable heart rate or to stimulate the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles). The latest addition to the pacemaker family, a leadless pacemaker is a small self-contained device that is inserted in the right ventricle of the heart. An accidental invention by Dr Wilson Greatbatch, it has come a long way since its invention. Today, companies like Medtronic and St. Jude Medical have created versions called Micra and Nanostim respectively that reduce potential risks of transvenous pacemakers like the risk of a serious infection.
A leadless pacemaker does not require connecting leads (wires) or a generator, or a creation of a surgical pocket on the chest, which are the most common causes of traditional pacemaker complications over the long-term and affect up to 1 in 10 patients. Contrary to the traditional pacemakers, a leadless pacemaker doesn’t cause the discomfort as there is no lump under the skin on the chest or leads anchored to the muscle bed. You also do not need to limit upper body activity after the implant as there are no wires or generator. The procedure of its implanting takes less time as the procedure uses a catheter to place the device.
The device is currently only available for patients with certain medical conditions and a slow heart rate (bradycardia) who need single-chamber pacing only.