Cardiologists perform first micro-Pacemaker implant in Coastal Bend

Cardiologists at Christus Spohn Shoreline Hospital performed the first micro-Pacemaker surgery in the Coastal Bend on Wednesday.

CORPUS CHRISTI (KIII NEWS) - Cardiologists at Christus Spohn Shoreline Hospital performed the first micro-Pacemaker surgery in the Coastal Bend on Wednesday.

The nickel-sized Pacemakers have been around for over a year, but previously, patients had to travel to Houston for the surgery. Now they will save money and precious time because the in-and-out procedure can be performed here.

"Honestly, I got into this business 31 years ago. I could not have imagined that there would be such a thing -- an implantable Pacemaker -- so I'm very, very impressed," Cardiologist Dr. Srikanth Damaraju said.

A healthy heart should beat between 60-100 beats per minute. Now thanks to a 35-person cardiology team at Christus Spohn Shoreline Hospital, that has become a reality for one local man.

"So as you get to in your 70's and 80's and 90's, this pulse can slow down to where it can be detrimental to your health," Damaraju said.

With a slower heart rate, people can become lethargic and have the potential to pass out.

For over 40 years Pacemakers have gotten smaller and smaller, but the latest was the size of a fist.

"It still required a lead, which is what a lead is, a wire to basically snake down the vein all the way to the heart," Cardiologist Dr. Ramesh Hariharan said.

Technology advanced, but the risks were still the same.

"But the problem with that is you got to cup over the person's skin and tuck it under the tissue, and that carries risk of infection," Damaraju said.

Before, patients lived with a wire to their heart the rest of their lives, but the new micro-Pacemaker is wire-free and implantable.

"So we put in a tiny Pacemaker that we put inside the right ventricle, which is the chamber of the heart that needs to be set," Damaraju said.

The micro-Pacemaker is the size of a nickel and works on its own with a battery life of seven-12 years.

"It has the ability to transmit information from the patients to the doctors' office on a regular basis," Hariharan said.

A surgery that would typically take an hour is now cut down to 25 minutes.

"It makes it a lot easier for them because they spend less time in the hospital, have less morbidity, and walk out of here faster," Damaraju said.

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