MRI compatible miniature wireless pacemakers

In cases of heart disease or arrhythmia in healthy people, the heart operates in a different way. The irregularity in the beats, which can be slow, fast or dotted with pauses, manifests itself with a series of symptoms that range between palpitations and fainting. There are various treatment methods developed for the different operation modes of the heart.

One of these methods involves placing a pacemaker in the heart. Implantation of a pacemaker is currently one of the most common procedures in cardiology and is used for patients with a very slow heart rate. Conventional pacemakers are systems consisting of a battery and 1 or 2 wires placed in the heart. The procedure involves introducing the wires to the heart through an incision under the collar bone, connecting the battery to the wires, placing the battery under the skin and suturing up the incision. The most important problems that can arise during pacemaker implantation are perforation of lungs, infections, cardiac perforation and, most frequently, technical problems related to the battery wires.

MRI-compatible miniature wireless pacemakers, involving a newly developed technology which is recently applied in the world and only has been in use in our country for 1 month, are considered to be revolutionary in cardiology due to advantages such as small size, wireless inguinal application and the fact that procedures such as MRI, which are prohibited for users of conventional pacemakers, are perfectly acceptable for patients with the said miniature pacemakers. Technological developments have made it possible for the size of the battery to be reduced to a great extent with no reduction in battery life; the batteries of miniature pacemakers promise the same lifespan as the ones in conventional pacemakers.

Contrary to older systems, the new miniature wireless batteries are inserted through the inguinal area and fixed directly on the outer edge of the right ventricle in the heart. This difference in the method of implantation and the fact that these pacemakers are wireless ensures a significant decrease in interventional complications. Since access is gained through the inguinal area, the scar that forms in the conventional technique never develops and since there is no subcutaneous battery that can be manually felt by the patient, the patient is able to forget the existence of the pacemaker and be allowed some psychological relief.

For the time being, this new FDA-approved system is not routinely applied for all patient groups. It is particularly recommended for senior patients (over the age of 70) who have a very slow heart rate which can be corrected with stimulation from the ventricle. It is predicted that the device will be routinely used for all patients requiring pacemakers int he upcoming years. The procedure can only be performed by certified cardiologists and interventional cardiac electrophysiologists who have received special training.

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