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). Pacemakers are used to treat patients with brady-arrhythmias, slow heart rhythms that may occur as a result of disease in the heart’s conduction system (such as the SA node, AV node or His-Purkinje network). A leadless pacemaker is small self-contained device that is inserted in the right ventricle of the heart. The device is very small, the size of a large vitamin pill.

The device does not require connecting leads (wires) or a generator, or a creation of a surgical pocket on the chest to which is done in a traditional pacemaker to house the pacemaker generator. These are the most common causes of traditional pacemaker complications over the long-term, and may affect up to 1 in 10 patients. When the leadless device is in place, there is no lump under the skin on the chest or leads anchored to the muscle bed. Sometimes these cause minor discomfort for patients who live with traditional pacemakers. The incisional access for a traditional pacemaker and each generator replacement leaves a scar that is a cosmetic concern for some patients. The procedure uses a catheter to place the device. The procedure typically takes less time than a traditional pacemaker implant procedure. Because there are no wires or generator, you do not need to limit upper body activity after the

Not everyone is a candidate for a leadless pacemaker. Currently, the device is available only for patients with certain medical conditions and a slow heart rate (bradycardia) who need single-chamber pacing only. Our physician can tell you if you are a candidate for a leadless pacemaker after a review of your medical history, heart rhythm, and the results of medical tests. You may need an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) or other noninvasive tests.

Video courtesy of Medtronic