News Column

Oklahoma City man is implanted with world's smallest pacemaker

May 30, 2014

By Graham Lee Brewer, The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City

May 30--An Oklahoma City man has been implanted with the world's smallest pacemaker, an experimental version of a new technology.

Ray Haggard, 65, began having trouble breathing. Soon he was blacking out and falling during the day, he said.

Haggard, who runs a television repair service in south Oklahoma City, said his condition was beginning to hurt both his work and his daily life.

"Just walking made me tired," he said.

His doctor recommended he get a pacemaker, a small electronic device implanted in the chest to help the heart stay on pace. He said Haggard may be a candidate for a new device still in the testing phase.

Haggard said he wouldn't describe himself as a risk-taker, but the new device offered him a chance to avoid perhaps the most uncomfortable and painful part of getting a pacemaker -- surgery.

"Probably the one thing is that they wouldn't have to get under my skin and cut me open," Haggard said.

Haggard was able to return to work in a matter of days. One month out from the surgery he is feeling much better.

The pacemaker, known as the Medtronic Micra Pacing System, is one-tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker, about the size and shape of a .22-caliber bullet. The device is not implanted in a "pocket" underneath the skin near the heart like common pacemakers. Instead, it is inserted through the femoral artery in the groin and pushed up and into a chamber in the heart.

The device is expected to last about 10 years. Doctors don't think they will need to remove it, even after it stops working, said Dr. Dwight Reynolds, the OU Physicians cardiologist who implanted the pacemaker.

Wright said the device is so small that once it is no longer useful, it can stay in the heart without causing any disruption.

Doctors are hopeful they will develop the technology to implant more than one pacemaker in the heart at once, utilizing other arteries, but Reynolds acknowledged they may have to develop a way to remove the devices in the future.

The device paces the heart with an electronic pulse.

Conventional pacemakers emit this pulse through wires channeled through veins.

Haggard said the absence of those wires not only removes the necessity to surgically remove them, it also decreases the chance of infection.

Haggard was the third patient in the U.S. to receive the new pacemaker, hospital officials said. More than 60 have been implanted in patients across the globe since December.

Doctors plan to study the first wave of patients for at least five years and hope to soon come to an agreement with agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on how and when it can be implemented on a wider scale.


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Source: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City)

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