Utah's First Implant of Non-surgical Leadless Cardiac Pacemaker


Cardiologists at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute have made Utah medical history as doctors implanted the Intermountain West's first non-surgical, leadless cardiac pacemaker to treat a Logan woman who suffers from atrial fibrillation.

Susan Thomas, 72, was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation in 2010, which causes the upper chambers of the heart to beat too fast and leaves her feeling fatigued, short of breath or dizzy. She has undergone numerous heart ablation procedures to treat the disease, along with medications, but the next step in her treatment was to implant a cardiac pacemaker.

Cardiologists at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute implanted the NanostimTM leadless pacemaker in Thomas on July 28, 2014. It’s the first time this technology has been used in Utah and in the Intermountain West.

“Traditional pacemakers consist of two parts – a wire that is placed into the chambers of the heart and the monitoring device inserted just under the skin,” said Jared Bunch, MD, cardiologist with the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute. “The smaller size of the new device, coupled with the lack of a surgical pocket for the monitoring device and the exclusion of the leads, makes this new device a safer and more comfortable option for patients who need the life-saving technology.”

The Nanostim leadless pacemaker is less than 10 percent the size of a conventional pacemaker and is the least invasive pacing technology available today. 

Prior to receiving her new leadless pacemaker, Thomas was forced to stop exercising due to fatigue and was barely able to walk a short distance without having to stop and catch her breath.

“Today, I feel great," said Thomas. "Two days after getting the pacemaker implanted, I was able to join my family for a vacation and felt 100 percent better. The difference has been like night and day. I’m so grateful to Dr. Bunch and the entire team at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute.”

The elimination of the visible lump and scar at a conventional pacemaker’s site, in addition to the removal of patient activity restrictions that are routinely put in place in an attempt to prevent dislodgment or damage to the leads, will potentially improve the quality of life for patients with this technology by allowing most to continue living active, uninhibited lives.

During the procedure, the small device is inserted through the femoral vein using a steerable catheter directly into the lower chamber of the heart. It is then anchored into the hear, detached from the insertion device and left to monitor and pace the heart to a normal rhythm should it slow to an unsafe pace.

“The next step in treating Susan’s atrial fibrillation is to completely disconnect communication between the upper and lower chambers of the heart using an ablation procedure,” said Dr. Bunch. “By implanting the pacemaker into the lower chamber of the heart, we can be sure her heart beats normally as we treat the occasionally erratic pace of the upper chamber.”

More than four million people worldwide have an implanted pacemaker or other cardiac rhythm management device, and an additional 700,000 patients receive the devices each year.

Cardiac pacemakers monitor the heart and provide electrical stimulation when the heart beats too slowly for each patient’s specific physiological requirements.

The implant is part of the LEADLESS II pivotal trial, a prospective, non-randomized, multi-center, international clinical study designed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the Nanostim leadless pacemaker in patients indicated for the device in the U.S. The study is expected to enroll approximately 670 patients at 50 centers.

Here are some additional news stories about this Utah medical first.