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Researchers unveil battery-less pacemaker

June 8, 2017
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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A new prototype has the potential to change the pulse of the industry.

Researchers from Rice University and the Texas Heart Institute (THI) debuted a wireless, battery-less pacemaker that can be implanted directly into a patient’s heart at this week’s Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Microwave Symposium. A short paper describing the device was released at the conference.

 “This technology brings into sharp focus the remarkable possibility of achieving the ‘Triple Crown’ of treatment of both the most common and most lethal cardia arrhythmias: external powering, wireless pacing and—far and away most importantly—cardiac defibrillation that is not only painless but is actually imperceptible to the patient,” said Mehdi Razavi, MD, in a press release. Razavi is also director of clinical arrhythmia research and innovation at THI and an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine, who collaborated on development and testing of the new pacemaker.

The microwave-powered pacemaker harvests energy wirelessly from radio frequency radiation that can be transmitted by an external battery pack up to a few centimeters away. Its microchips can be implanted directly to pace multiple points inside or outside the heart.

Traditional pacemakers use electrical signals transmitted to the heart via wires called leads to keep hearts beating steadily. They are implanted away from the heart so surgeons can periodically replace their onboard batteries with minor surgery.

Lead-less pacemakers can reduce some of the complications associated with the leads, such as bleeding and infection, but their design limits them to a single heart chamber and they are unable to provide dual-chamber of biventricular pacing. 

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