Setting the pace: One local doctor is making giant leaps with tiny pacemakers

By: Sean K. Thompson
| Published 07/26/2022


THE WOODLANDS, TX – They say that the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Actually, for Dr. Scott Greenberg of The Woodlands North Houston Heart Center, sometimes it’s better reached through the leg.

Dr. Scott Greenberg knows how to reach someone’s heart

Greenberg is a Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiologist whose specialty is making sure his patients’ hearts are in tip-top, tick-tock shape. One aspect of that specialty is ensuring he is current and competent with the latest in cutting-edge cardial technology and techniques.

A shining example of this technology is in the form of pacemakers, which have evolved over the years from big, clunky, short-lasting, microwave-hating devices to state-of-the art, sleek, long-lasting, and miniscule works of wonder. Greenberg installs between twenty and thirty of them a month.

“Today’s pacemaker is far advanced over what people typically envision it as being,” he said. “They operate just fine around microwaves and even some MRIs, and the current top-of-the-line models are about the size of a silver dollar.”

One recent advancement in pacemaker technology has been the creation of the ‘leadless’ pacemaker, which – amazingly – is approximately the size of a paper clip. These mini-pacemakers are implanted via a small incision in the leg and steering up an artery to the heart. As the name implies, there are no leads – wires – involved in this device. Unlike traditional pacemakers, leadless pacemakers do not require an incision in the chest to implant the device or cardiac leads to deliver therapy.

“Traditionally, pacemaker implants were a complicated procedure with noticeable aftereffects,” said Greenberg. “Cutting the incision into the torso made it difficult for a patient to raise his or her arm afterwards, and there was significant recovery time. With the leadless models, there is only a single, one-stitch incision in the leg, and the patient typically can go home the next day with no significant restrictions.”

Additionally, traditional, wired models include batteries that last eight years. The new leadless models can last between 16-18 years.

Leadless pacemaker technology is so new that Greenberg is one of the first to install them. “This field is as high-tech as it gets,” he said. “It constantly pushes limits and advances. Even though I completed my fellowship six years ago, it’s old news now, and it’s vital that I keep up with the news, techniques, and protocols.”

Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Greenberg is the oldest son of another heart doctor. “My dad is an interventional cardiologist,” he said. “I had originally planned on going into neurology, but I quickly realized I liked the heart over the brain.” He completed undergraduate studies and medical school at the University of Colorado.

“After that, I decided I needed to see something different, so I studied at Cornell in New York. Then I changed locations again and did my fellowship training at Texas Heart Institute.” He had planned to return to Colorado, but cardiological king Dr. Vince Aquino stepped in and offered Greenberg a job at The Woodlands North Houston Heart Center in 2015. A year later, Greenberg completed his fellowship and has stayed here ever since.

“I love The Woodlands,” he said. “It’s so picturesque.”

Greenberg enjoys spending time with his two daughters – ages 5 and 7 – and his wife. “We just celebrated our 10-year anniversary, a truly special event considering we got married in that one week I had open between moving between New York and Houston.”

While at work, Greenberg’s dedication is constant and unyielding. “There is constant training,” he said. “My work involves more than just implanting pacemakers; I also do what is known as ablations, mapping out the body’s electrical systems and fixing atrial fibrillations. This field has really evolved, and I’m so glad that I can be a part of it as it continues to advance.”

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