Cutting edge technology set to benefit pacemaker patients

June 7, 2016, King's College London

A hi-tech improvement to the surgical implantation of pacemakers into patients with heart failure is being pioneered by specialists at Guy's and St Thomas', using software developed by clinicians and engineers at King's College London.

In collaboration with experts from Siemens Healthcare, doctors are able to process precise information from cardiac magnetic resonance images (MRI) and combine these with live X-rays during the implant procedure.

The integrated information from these diagnostic images is displayed on a screen, providing doctors with real-time data as they implant the . Clinicians can see a 3D model of the patient's heart superimposed over the X-ray of their chest while they carry out the procedure.

This highly detailed fusion of two images means the team implanting the pacemaker can place the leads into the best possible position – improving the pacemaker's effectiveness.

Kawal Rhode, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at King's College London, says: "Heart disease is one of the most common illnesses and can have a considerable effect on the quality of life for patients.

"Our collaborative effort has meant that the development and testing of this new approach to pacemaker implantation has occurred within only two years of starting the project. The widespread use through commercialisation and the significant benefits for patients are now within reach."

Professor Aldo Rinaldi, consultant cardiologist at Guy's and St Thomas' and project lead, says: "This highly sophisticated technology gives us a much clearer image of the patient's heart and so enables us to carry out the pacemaker implantation with greater precision. Integrating the MRI and X-ray images boosts the accuracy of the implantation procedure and we believe it increases the likelihood of a successful pacemaker fitting."

There are 10,000 pacemakers fitted for heart failure in the UK each year. Guy's and St Thomas' has a dedicated specialist service for these patients and sees a broad of range of patients, involving both simple and complex cases. The Trust is using the new technology to assist with the implantation of cardiac resynchronisation therapy (CRT) pacemakers.

Pacemakers are small electrical devices surgically implanted into the chest. They send electrical pulses to the patient's heart to keep it beating regularly. CRT pacemakers resynchronise the beating of the heart's two ventricles, improving the overall efficiency of the heart. Having a pacemaker fitted can significantly improve a patient's quality of life and can even be lifesaving.

It is crucial to ensure the pacemaker leads are positioned correctly as studies have shown that bad positioning can negatively influence clinical outcomes. The specialist heart team at Guy's and St Thomas' has successfully used the technology to implant CRT pacemakers into 12 patients.

Robert Comber, 70, a part-time film actor and languages teacher from Kensington in west London, was the first patient to receive a pacemaker implant using the new technology.

Robert had a heart attack in 2013. Although he was taken to St Thomas' Emergency Department (A&E) and recovered, his heart began to beat irregularly and it was later recommended that he should receive a pacemaker implant.

Robert says: "I was initially wary of having a pacemaker fitted but the cardiologists at St Thomas' advised me that this was the best way of keeping my heart in good health over the long term.

"I only had a local anaesthetic while the procedure was underway, so I was completely aware of what was happening. I felt some pressure as the implant went in but no pain. The team around me were superb and knew exactly what they were doing. I received so much attention, care, and warmth – I can't praise them enough."

Robert's pacemaker was fitted successfully in August 2015. His heart condition has since improved and he has gained improved stamina for activities like walking and swimming.

The procedure takes place in the XMR suite at St Thomas' Hospital, a hybrid facility with an MRI scanner and adjacent cardiac catheter lab containing an x-ray generator. The XMR suite is run in partnership with King's College London and has become one of the world's leading centres for performing pacemaker implants using cutting-edge technology.

Explore further: 'World's smallest pacemaker' appears promising in human trial

Related Stories

'World's smallest pacemaker' appears promising in human trial

May 18, 2015
(HealthDay)—The world's smallest pacemaker is safe and effective in patients with symptomatic bradycardia, according to the first human clinical trial of the device. The findings were scheduled to be presented at the annual ...

Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation implants its first world's smallest cardiac pacemaker

May 5, 2014
The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation (MHIF) announced today the first implant of the world's smallest pacemaker at the Minneapolis Heart Institute. The device was implanted as part of a global clinical trial and the ...

FDA approves first pacemaker without wires from Medtronic

April 6, 2016
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first pacemaker to do away with electrical wires that have long been a shortcoming of internal heart devices.

Pacemaker for slow heart rhythm restores life expectancy

September 2, 2013
Pacemakers implanted for slow heart rhythm restore life expectancy to normal levels, reveals research presented at ESC Congress 2013 today by Dr Erik O. Udo from the Netherlands. The findings provide a new reference point ...

Heart expert sees pacemaker as cardiac management milestone

June 11, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—The BBC reported Monday that the world's smallest' pacemaker, the Micra Transcatheter Pacing System, was fitted for the first time in England. The pacemaker is one-tenth the size of traditional models. ...

Tiny, wireless pacemaker could be surgery-free option, study shows

August 30, 2015
A tiny, wireless pacemaker could offer some heart patients a surgery-free alternative to the traditional devices, a new study says. Some doctors, however, say there are lingering safety questions and warned patients not to ...

Recommended for you

Increasing statins dose and patient adherence could save more lives

December 7, 2018
Thousands of heart attacks and deaths from cardiovascular disease could be prevented by patients taking higher doses of statins and taking the drugs as advised by doctors.

Progress made in transplanting pig hearts into baboons

December 6, 2018
A large team of researchers from several institutions in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S. has transplanted pig hearts into baboons and kept them alive for an extended period of time. In their paper published in the ...

Obesity ups survival in heart failure, but that's no reason to pile on pounds

December 6, 2018
(HealthDay)—Obese people with heart failure may live longer than those who are thinner—especially if they are "metabolically healthy," a new study suggests.

New genetic insight could help treat rare debilitating heart and lung condition

December 6, 2018
The largest study of genetic variation in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension has associated two important genes with the disease.

New drug target discovered for potential blood pressure treatment

December 5, 2018
Scientists have identified a key player in blood pressure regulation and have shown that switching it off reduces blood pressure in mice, according to new research in eLife.

Neighborhoods with more green space may mean less heart disease

December 5, 2018
People who live in leafy, green neighborhoods may have a lower risk of developing heart disease and strokes, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.