St. Luke’s cardiologist and electrophysiologist Darren Traub, DO, made medical history in this region this month when he implanted the first new leadless and retrievable pacemaker into a patient at St. Luke’s Bethlehem Campus. This treatment innovation is just one of the reasons St. Luke’s is recognized as one of the top 50 cardiovascular hospitals in the country.
On Aug. 2, Dr. Traub, who specializes in correcting abnormal heart rhythms, inserted the Abbott Aveir™ VR Leadless Pacemaker, a tiny silver tube smaller than a AAA battery, into the lower right heart chamber of a patient whose heart was beating chronically more slowly than normal. This minimally invasive procedure—the device was mounted on a thin wire, or catheter, for insertion--was the first performed anywhere in the Lehigh Valley and one of the first done in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“This new pacemaker offers innovative therapy that thousands of patients in the nation can benefit from, which can increase their longevity and enhance their quality of life,” says Dr. Traub. “In addition to the absence of metallic wire ‘leads,’ which can sometimes become infected or break, the option of device removal if a patient’s therapy needs change further increases its value of this product to both patients and cardiologists.”
While conventional pacemakers have insulated wires that deliver electrical energy to “pulse” the heart, this new device adheres directly to the heart muscle to regulate its rhythm. Its battery life is potentially twice as long as other leadless pacers.
St Luke’s is part of an international trial implanting a new, combined device that is both able to deliver therapy and function as an implantable cardioverter defibrillator to both improve quality of life and deliver life-saving therapy to prevent sudden death in patients with heart failure.