By Chris King • 07 May 2023 • 17:25
Credit Roman Zaiets / Shutterstock.com
Surgeons in a Spanish hospital have broken new medical ground by performing the first-ever operation in Europe to successfully implant a wireless pacemaker in a baby.
The ground-breaking surgery was carried out by cardiologists in the Arrhythmia Unit of the Hospital Universitari i Politècnic La Fe in Valencia. They were assisted by medical colleagues from the facility’s Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery Services.
According to Joaquín Osca, head of the Arrhythmia Unit, the baby, weighing just one and a half kilos, had a complete congenital atrioventricular block. This caused severe bradycardia that placed the child in a life-threatening situation he explained.
In a statement from the Generalitat, Osca revealed that the technique to relieve the baby’s heart blockage: “required the implantation of a pacemaker to guarantee an adequate heart rate for the patient’s needs”.
“The implantation of a pacemaker in neonatal age is performed through a surgical access, since percutaneous implantation, the normal procedure in adults, is not possible”, he continued.
In order to perform this operation, the surgeons had to take into account that the pacemakers currently available are designed only for use in adults, which means their size is large for a neonate.
As a result, the one that was been implanted was an adaptation of the smallest existing pacemaker. A micra pacemaker was used, which is a miniaturised pacemaker that is normally implanted inside the cardiac cavity in adults.
In neonates, Osca added, “This type of pacemaker cannot be implanted inside a cardiac cavity because of its size, which is why it requires an epicardial lead, which is what is normally used in this type of patient”.
A modification in the design allowed for its concomitant use with the lead that is implanted in the baby through surgical access, as reported by 20minutos.es.
The use of this device required the authorisation of the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS). After analyzing the different options available, it authorised its implantation as compassionate use. This authorisation allowed the transfer of the pacemaker from the United States.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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