CHI St. Luke’s Health—The Woodlands Hospital First in Houston to Offer the World’s Smallest Pacemaker to Treat Patients with Atrioventricular Block

By: CHI St. Luke’s Health - The Woodlands Hospital
| Published 03/09/2020

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THE WOODLANDS, TX -- CHI St. Luke’s Health—The Woodlands Hospital (The Woodlands Hospital) announced that it is the first hospital in Greater Houston to offer Micra™ AV, the world’s smallest pacemaker with atrioventricular (AV) synchrony. This new device, indicated for the treatment of patients with AV block, extends the most advanced pacing technology – at one-tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker – to more patients than ever before. The first procedure was performed by Dr. Scott Greenberg on February 24, 2020.

AV block is a type of heart block that interrupts the impulse transmissions between the chambers of the heart (the atria and the ventricles). Pacemakers, the most common way to treat AV block, help restore the heart's normal rhythm and relieve symptoms by coordinating the electrical activity of the atria and the ventricles. When this process – known as AV synchrony – is achieved, patients are healthier and have decreased likelihood of pacemaker syndrome, improved quality of life, and increased blood flow from the left ventricle.

Historically, patients with AV block have been treated with traditional dual-chamber pacemakers which are implanted in the upper chest, under the skin below the collar bone, and connected to the heart using thin wires called “leads.” Identical in size and shape to the original Micra Transcatheter Pacing System (TPS) approved in 2016, Micra AV has several additional internal atrial sensing algorithms which detect cardiac movement, allowing the device to adjust pacing in the ventricle to coordinate with the atrium, providing “AV synchronous” pacing therapy to patients with AV block.

“This new technology allows us to treat complex patients that wouldn’t normally be good candidates for traditional pacemakers,” said Dr. Scott Greenberg, director of cardiac electrophysiology at The Woodlands Hospital and physician with Woodlands North Houston Heart Center. “It also offers significant benefits to patients over standard pacemakers including quicker recovery times, no visible scars, lower infection risk, and significantly improved battery life.'

Comparable in size to a large vitamin, physicians at The Woodlands Hospital have elected to use Medtronic’s Micra AV based on its ability to deliver therapy via a minimally invasive approach. During the implant procedure, the device is inserted through a catheter and implanted directly into the heart with small tines. Because Micra AV does not require leads or a surgical 'pocket' under the skin, potential sources of complications related to leads and pockets are eliminated - as are any visible signs of the device.

“Every time we can adopt a more modern, safer technology that helps us address an unmet need in our community, it’s a win-win situation for us,” said Jim Parisi, president, The Woodlands Hospital. “With the approval of Micra AV, we can offer a more effective treatment option for patients with AV block that’s also safer compared to traditional pacemakers.”

Micra AV was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January 2020.

About CHI St. Luke’s Health–The Woodlands Hospital
The Woodlands Hospital provides high quality, compassionate care for residents of The Woodlands and surrounding areas. It is a 242-bed hospital that offers the latest in diagnostic, medical and surgical services, including cardiology, neurosciences and stroke care, orthopedics, bariatric, wound care, rehabilitation, surgery, women's health and emergency care.

About the CHI Texas Division
The CHI Texas Division, a member of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), is comprised of three markets?in Houston, CHI St. Luke’s Health (CHI St. Luke’s) is home to eight hospitals, eight emergency centers, Diagnostic & Treatment Center, Radiation & CyberKnife Center, and numerous Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group locations throughout Greater Houston; CHI St. Luke’s Health Memorial (three hospitals and a long-term acute care facility in East Texas); and CHI St. Joseph Health (five hospitals and several St. Joseph Medical Group locations across Brazos Valley). In addition, CHI St. Luke’s flagship hospital, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in the Texas Medical Center, is a joint venture with Baylor College of Medicine. Together, CHI St. Luke’s and Baylor College of Medicine are transforming healthcare delivery with a mission to usher in a new era of healthcare to create healthier communities. For more information, visit CHITX.org.

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