UAE hospital implants pacemaker that's smaller than a dirham

Abu Dhabi - Two more Emirati patients have benefitted from the new pacemaker technology.


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Tue 15 Dec 2020, 3:24 PM

Last updated: Tue 15 Dec 2020, 6:12 PM

A hospital in Abu Dhabi has performed the country’s first implant of a synchronised leadless miniature pacemaker device, which is smaller than a one-dirham coin.

Doctors at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi implanted the device, which is 93 per cent tinier than a traditional pacemaker, into an Emirati woman (22) to correct a slow heart rate problem.

The first-of-its-kind minimally invasive procedure, which took around 30 minutes, was conducted in November.

Two more Emirati patients have benefitted from the new pacemaker technology since then.

Dr Khalid Almuti, the section head for cardiac electrophysiology at the hospital, said technological advances have allowed a new generation of pacemakers to shrink to less than a tenth of their former size.

The state-of-the-art pacemakers have replaced wires with acoustic sensors.

“Traditional pacemakers are inserted in pockets created under the skin of the upper chest. This leaves a visual reminder for patients that they have a device helping to keep them alive. Inserted through a tiny incision in the leg, this new miniature device can sit inside the lower chamber of the heart and ‘listen’ to the upper chamber to synchronise a patient’s heartbeat without that reminder. This could do wonders for a patient’s mindset,” he said.

No wires, pocket

The new device replaces wires with sensors and sits directly in a patient’s heart, and as a result eliminates the risk of developing further complications.

Dr Khalid added: “With a 10-year battery life and the ability to report back data on both the heart and its functionality through our remote heart monitoring programme, these devices are an almost perfect solution, especially for young people. The risk of complications is negligible because the device has no pocket, wires, charging batteries or additional burden of maintenance. When the battery runs out, we can simply install a new one or replace it with the next generation of technology that will be available at that time.”

Lucky, proud patient

The Emirati patient is proud to be the first in the UAE to benefit from the new device.

“Initially, I was a little scared of getting an implant and placing a battery-operated object inside my body. Once I learned how small it was, I was more confident and wanted to proceed. Medical technology has come of age, and the UAE is now providing the most advanced and cutting-edge healthcare globally. I feel lucky and proud to be the first person to receive this device,” she said.

Doctors anticipate that around half of all patients in need of a pacemaker, or up to 250 patients per year, can benefit from the new pacemaker.

Once the device is installed, the patient can be discharged the following day from the clinic.

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