Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Sets the Pace with Tiny Heart Device

Micra™ Transcatheter Pacing System.

Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital is the first in Fort Bend County to treat a patient with an irregular heartbeat using the world’s smallest pacemaker.

Electrophysiologist and cardiologist Jie Cheng, M.D., successfully implanted the Micra™ Transcatheter Pacing System (TPS), developed by Medtronic, into a Beaumont man at Houston Methodist Sugar Land. Cheng was supported by cardiothoracic surgeon, Uttam Tripathy, M.D., and the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab staff.

The tiny pacemaker is implanted via a minimally invasive procedure; the pacemaker is delivered through a catheter inserted into the patient’s femoral artery in the groin area and placed directly into the heart’s right ventricle.

“This pacemaker is a major step forward for patients with slow or irregular heartbeats because it offers a number of significant advantages over traditional pacemakers,” said Cheng. “Most importantly, it is one-tenth the size of regular pacemakers – about the size of a large vitamin – and it can be implanted without the need for a surgical incision. It’s also self-contained so there is no need for a pocket under the skin to contain the wire lead that delivers the pacing therapy. That means no visible signs of the device, which is a positive for many patients, and a reduced risk of complications.”

Slow or irregular heart rhythms, known medically as bradycardia, can cause dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath or fainting spells, because the heart doesn’t beat fast enough to pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. Pacemakers are the most common way to treat bradycardia; they send electrical impulses to the heart to increase or stabilize the heart rate, restoring its normal rhythm and relieving symptoms. The pacemaker automatically adjusts its pacing therapy based on the patient’s activity levels.

In addition to its other benefits, the tiny pacemaker is the first and only transcatheter pacing system to be approved for full-body magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

“That’s an important benefit because patients often fear their pacemaker will be damaged or disrupted by an MRI,” said Cheng. “With the pacemaker, patients can feel comfortable undergoing an MRI scan in the future without worry of complications.”

The pacemaker can be remotely monitored by the physician. The device and its implementation are covered by Medicare.

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