Steward Health Care’s St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center Completes Simultaneous First in New England Procedure with New Leadless Pacemaker Technology
BRIGHTON, MA - A medical device about the size of a large vitamin and as lightweight as a penny is transforming the face of cardiac care for patients whose hearts beat too slowly. An electrophysiology team at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, led by Dr. John Wylie, implanted the tiny device, known as “the world’s smallest pacemaker” last Thursday in a patient, in a simultaneous first in New England procedure.
“This new miniature technology expands upon the existing leadless pacemaker device we have been implanting over the last two years,” said Dr. Wylie, Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, a Steward Family Hospital. “This new device uses movement of the heart to synchronize the cardiac chambers with a single tiny device implanted via a catheter from the leg, eliminating the need for surgical placement of a pacemaker in the chest.”
The device, called the Micra AV, manufactured by Medtronic, has small hooks that allow it to attach onto heart muscle. The pacemaker works as a virtual dual chamber pacemaker and is a self-contained system whose battery will last approximately 8-10 years. It is used to treat patients with a condition called bradycardia where the heart beats too slowly. Patients who have bradycardia often suffer dizziness, fatigue and other symptoms because the heart is unable to pump enough oxygenated blood throughout the body. Dr. Wylie and his team at St. Elizabeth’s performed the procedure virtually at the same time another was performed at Massachusetts General Hospital. He said the St. Elizabeth’s patient who received the tiny pacemaker is doing well.
“The innovative technology our providers use is a hallmark of Steward and St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, said Harrison Bane, president of the medical center. “We are constantly looking for ways to enhance the care we provide to our patients and the use of the Micra AV leadless pacemaker is yet another example of breakthrough technology available to help our patients achieve their highest quality of life.”
The Micra AV is the second generation of a leadless device called the Micra that St. Elizabeth’s began using about two years ago to treat patients. The Micra AV was just approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration in January. With its groundbreaking technology, the Micra AV can sense the movement of the heart in the atrium, and then pace the ventricle, where the device is implanted, to synchronize the beating of the atrium and ventricle together.
“For pacing needs, this provides an extremely elegant solution through the technology,” said Dr. Wylie.
The implantation of the device is among another first for St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center which has continuously been a pioneer in heart care. In July of 2016, Dr. Joseph Carrozza, Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine at St. Elizabeth’s, and Vice President of the Steward Cardiovascular Network, was the first in New England to implant a dissolving heart stent in a new treatment for coronary artery disease. St. Elizabeth’s was also the first in New England to use the Lutonix 035 Drug Coated Balloon PTA Catheter, a device to treat patients with peripheral artery disease, in the fall of 2014. Dr. Carrozza also pioneered the CorPath Angioplasty robotic-assisted system in 2011.
The medical center is also consistently recognized for its cardiac care. St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center was recently recognized by Healthgrades as an “America’s Best 100” hospitals for Coronary Intervention from 2017-2019, an “America’s Best 100” hospitals for Cardiac Care for 2013-2019, and “America’s Best 50 Hospitals for Cardiac Surgery” for 2018-2020. It was also recognized as a “High Performing Hospital” for Heart Failure care for 2018-2019.