Try 1 month for 99¢
Community Hospital implants world's smallest pacemaker

Dr. Wassim Ballany, an electrophysiologist at Community Hospital in Munster, holds the tiny Micra pacemaker in his hand. Comparable to the size of a large everyday vitamin, the Micra Transcatheter Pacing System does not require a surgical incision or the creation of a pocket under the skin or the use of leads to deliver pacing therapy. Unlike many other pacemakers, the Micra is approved for safe use with MRI technology.

MUNSTER — Electrophysiologists at Community Hospital are implanting a pacemaker the size of a vitamin and that requires no incision.

The Medtronic Micra, newly approved by the Food and Drug Administration, is said to be the world's smallest pacemaker. It is designed to treat bradycardia, or a slow heartbeat. It does not require a skin pocket or wire leads and is safe to use with MRIs.

“Cardiac electrophysiologists at Community Healthcare System have a deep commitment to delivering the latest, most state-of-the-art treatments available for heart rhythm disorders,” stated Dr. Wassim Ballany, an electrophysiologist on staff at Community Hospital. “When this advanced device became available upon FDA approval, we worked with hospital administration to make this an option for appropriate patients.”

Community Hospital says it is the first hospital in the Region to implant the device, which is about a tenth the size of traditional pacemakers. It is implanted through a catheter inserted into the leg's femoral vein and attached to the heart with small prongs that can deliver electrical pulses. The lack of incisions and wire lead is said to reduce the risk of complications.

Bradycardia is characterized by a slow heartbeat — slower than 60 beats a minute — caused by congenital heart disease, aging, medication side effects or electrical malfunctions. People with the condition may feel dizzy, lack energy, be short of breath, or even faint. The Micra pacemaker helps the heart maintain a normal rate of between 60 and 100 beats per minute.


Health Reporter

Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.