Heart Centre inserts the first wireless pacemaker in Scandinavia

New pacemaker concept without electrodes but with huge benefits for patients.

In mid-January, Prof. Jesper Hastrup Svendsen, and Dr. Lars Søndergaard, both Consultant Surgeons at the Department of Cardiology at Rigshospitalet, were the first in Scandinavia to insert a new type of wireless pacemaker in a 70-year-old man with irregular heartbeat. The procedure was completed under local anaesthesia and took less than an hour. The patient was discharged on the following day and is doing well.

Unique new concept

“Medtronic has developed an entirely new and unique concept here. All the “gubbins” for the Micra Tps wireless pacemaker are in the heart itself. This has many advantages. Now there are no electrodes, which, in the past with traditional pacemakers, have often led to various complications, like infections. There is also a minimal surgical procedure compared with previously,” Said Prof. Jesper Hastrup Svendsen, from the Department of Cardiology at Rigshospitalet and Glostrup University Hospital.

Pacemaker treatment is used for patients with slow heartbeats. The first pacemaker was implanted in 1958. All pacemakers have more or less looked the same since then.

The traditional pacemaker

“A traditional pacemaker is a cylindrical about 2cm in diameter and ½cm high. The cylinder contains a computer component which registers when the pacemaker needs to emit the small electrical pulses which make the heart contract. The cylinder also contains a battery.

The pacemaker is implanted under the skin in front of the ribcage. The pacemaker is connected to 1-3 wires (electrodes) which, via a blood vessel near the shoulder, are led down to the heart and brought into contact with the inner heart wall.

Wireless and problem-free

“Many of the problems and complications we see with current pacemakers are due to the wire electrodes. The new pacemakers don’t have these. They look like a rifle bullet and they have four hooks which grip onto the inner side of the heart wall,” said Jesper Hastrup Svendsen, and he continued,

“The pacemaker is implanted using a local anaesthetic. We insert the device from a vein in the groin and with a special “tool” we push the device out, once it has been placed in a good location in the inside of the right ventricle. What’s more, the battery lasts for 7-10 years; very impressive given its size. Finally, the new pacemaker is invisible and that’s a great advantage for the patient.”

New concept and perspectives 

The new wireless pacemaker system is currently being implemented as part of an international research project. The Heart Centre has set up a collaboration with other hospitals in the Capital Region of Denmark which carry out pacemaker operations, and these are referring suitable patients. The first patient to receive a wireless pacemaker was referred from Hillerød Hospital in northern Zealand.

“We expect to be able to treat between 10 to 20 patients with the new system during 2015. The ideal candidates for the new pacemaker are patients who only need a pacemaker with electrodes in the ventricle, and this applies for around 30% of all patients with pacemakers.

As far as I know, the new device has been implanted in around 300 patients world-wide. In the long term, the pacemaker technology will be improved further, with several of the same type of pacemaker in different places in the heart in the same patient,” Jesper Hastrup Svendsen concluded


Jesper Hastrup Svendsen

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