Researchers at Children’s National Health System in Washington DC have developed a 1 square centimetre prototype pacemaker for infants that could be delivered using a small 1cm incision. Open-heart surgery can take several hours, depending on the child’s medical condition, but Dr Charles Berul’s bioengineering lab at Children’s National Health System has already developed a two-channel, self-anchoring access port which helps with the speed of the new procedure. A camera is in one channel, and the pacemaker’s lead threads through the second channel and is attached to the heart. Then the pacemaker itself is inserted into the incision, which is then closed up, leaving behind just a very small scar.
“Prototype pacemaker could reduce length and trauma of open heart surgery for infants“
Lead author Dr Rohan Kumthekar, a cardiology fellow at Children’s National Health System, said: “Placing a pacemaker in a small child is different than operating on an adult, due to their small chest cavity and narrow blood vessels. By eliminating the need to cut through the sternum or the ribs and fully open the chest to implant a pacemaker, the current model, we can cut down on surgical time and help alleviate pain. As cardiologists and paediatric surgeons, our goal is to put a child’s health and comfort first. Advancements in surgical fields are tending toward procedures that are less and less invasive. There are many laparoscopic surgeries in adults and children that used to be open surgeries, such as appendix and gallbladder removals. However, placing pacemaker leads on infants’ hearts has always been an open surgery. We are trying to bring those surgical advances into our field of paediatric cardiology to benefit our patients.”