In March this year, doctors in a small Kerala town called Tiruvalla successfully fitted the world’s smallest pacemaker inside the heart of an octogenarian patient. The device, The New Indian Express reported, was one-tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker and about as large as a large vitamin capsule.
One of the biggest advantages of a small leadless pacemaker is that it minimises the chances of infections. Cardiac patients with pacemaker are prone to developing infections around the wires of the device. In fact, the Tiruvalla patient had developed recurrent infections around his old conventional pacemaker.
While some doctors are trying to fit patients with these new devices that are small enough to to be delivered through a catheter and fitted directly into the heart, others are finding new ways of tackling infections that have already developed.
Doctors at the University of South Florida successfully operated on a particularly difficult case recently. The patient had developed at least five infections around the wires of his pacemaker. The infected tissue grew to the size of ice cubes, had broken off and lodged in places like the top of his heart and lungs. The doctors had to vacuum out infection to save the septic patient just in time.