Surgeons at Rijeka Hospital Implant World's Smallest Pacemaker

By 25 February 2019

The Department of Cardiology of the Internal Medicine Clinic of the Rijeka Clinical Hospital Centre has performed new heart surgery for the first time in Croatia. The surgeons at Rijeka hospital have implanted the smallest heart electro-stimulator in the world, reports on February 25, 2019.

The size of the capsule is just 25 mm. It has been implanted directly into the hearts of two patients with a heart rhythm disorder. The procedure at the Department of Invasive and Interventional Cardiology at Sušak was done by physicians led by Sandra Brusicha and Zlatko Čubranić.

This revolutionary device, with no wires and batteries, is implanted directly into the heart of a patient without any surgical cuts. The implantation of traditional heart electro-stimulators requires a complicated surgery with the implantation of the device into a surgically-made pocket underneath the skin and introducing electrodes through the blood vessels into the heart.

The implantation of the latest capsule is performed with just the local anaesthesia through the vein in the groin of the patient, with the aid of a catheter system that drives the device to the right heart ventricle and then attaches it to the heart wall by means of flexible teeth.

The minimal size and the minimally invasive approach do not leave visible signs of a medical device under the skin, the percentage of complications is lower compared to the traditional method, and there are no scars and no need for extended recovery of patients after surgery. On average, the durability of a standard electro-stimulator is 8 to 10 years, while the estimated lifespan of this device is 12 years.

Currently, it is indicated only in patients with an infection of the electro-stimulation system, those who are at high risk of infection or have clogged blood vessels, which prevents the implantation of a standard pacemaker.

The Clinical Hospital Centre in Rijeka is the only centre for extraction of electro-stimulation systems (pacemakers) in Croatia. The electrode extraction procedure is one of the most complex and most dangerous interventions in cardiology.

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