New, Smaller Pacemaker Installed for First Time in SoCal

New device that is one-tenth the size of a tradtional pacemaker was installed into an 83-year-old woman at Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego

A new medical advancement in wireless pacemakers was installed for the first time in Southern California into an 83-year-old patient at San Diego's Scripps Memorial Hospital.

The wireless device, called Nanostim, is one-tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker.

Nanostim, which is currently being researched, is the world’s first pacemaker that is completely implanted into a patient’s heart, according to Scripps Memorial Hospital officials.

Nina Korabelnikov, of Encinitas, was the trailblazing patient who was first to receive the implant to help steady her heart during a procedure on April 22.

Comparing herself to Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human to venture into space,  Korabelnikov underwent the procedure at the hand of electrophysiologist Steven Higgins during a 45 minute procedure at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla.

“About every 20 years or so we have a major advance like this in medicine,” said Higgins.

Higgins guided the pacemaker through a vein in Korabelnikov's groin all the way up to the right ventricle of her heart wher,e like a space station, it un-docked to live for the next nine to 18 years.

"The Achilles's heel for pacemakers forever has been this long lead that goes under the collar bone that gets injured, goes into the blood vessel, into the heart, moves with each heartbeat, gets stressed and wears out long before the battery is due," said Higgins.

However, just like cell phones and computers, which only got better as they reduced in size, this new pacemaker comes with a lot of medical upside.

Higgins said by using the new device, Korabelnikov gets to avoid a two-inch incision and scar above her collarbone. It means her recovery time will be quicker.

“The hope is that this new procedure will allow patients to regulate their heart rates without dealing with the chest pocket and other complications that may arise from having a traditional pacemaker," said  Scripps Clinic cardiologist John Rogers, M.D in a media release.

The benefits of the new technology are making the decision much easier for patients, which Higgins said isn’t always the case when dealing with advancements in medical technology.

"Many medical advances are hard to understand,” said Higgins, “but you show them this little one versus the big one … People figure that out pretty quickly.”

Due to the fact that the pacemaker is still being researched, patients are being selected very carefully.

Researchers said they expected about 600 more procedures to be performed in San Diego before the FDA will make an approval decision.

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