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Sutter Patient Implanted with World’s Smallest Pacemaker

Posted by on Aug 4, 2017 in Cardiac Services, Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento | 0 comments

Patient Sarah C. Smith, left, shares a laugh with Thomas Tadros, M.D., the Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento electrophysiologist who implanted Sarah’s new pacemaker, the world’s smallest.

SACRAMENTO — Local resident Sarah C. Smith, 89, suffered from atrial fibrillation that got so bad that her cardiologist said the only way to control it was with a pacemaker. However, she wasn’t a candidate for a conventional pacemaker, which is placed in a pocket under the skin in the chest and connected to the heart with wires, also called leads. Luckily for Sarah, a new, tiny, leadless pacemaker was recently approved by the FDA and Medicare, and she met the criteria for it.

On Thursday, Aug. 3, Sarah became one of the first patients in Northern California to be implanted with the world’s smallest pacemaker, the Micra® Transcatheter Pacing System, which has no leads and provides patients with the most advanced pacing technology at one-tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker.

Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento Electrophysiologist Thomas Tadros, M.D., holds the new Micra pacemaker along with a quarter to show how small it is.

“The advantages are that it’s much smaller and is implanted directly into the heart, so you don’t have a skin incision in the chest and it doesn’t have wires that go through the vein,” explained Thomas Tadros, M.D., a cardio electrophysiologist with Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento who performed the Micra implantation. “It’s all done with a needle stick in a vein in the thigh instead of making an incision in the chest, so there’s no restriction on arm movement for the month afterwards, and patients usually go home the next day.”

There are also other medical benefits having a smaller pacemaker that’s implanted in the heart instead of the chest.

“Traditional pacemakers can have problems with the pocket, which is the area in the chest where it sits, which can get infected. The wires sometimes can have issues over time and have to be taken out and replaced,” Dr. Tadros said.

And the battery life? “It’s remarkable that for a small device, the battery life is pretty equivalent to our traditional pacemakers,” Dr. Tadros said, adding that Sarah’s pacemaker should last her for more than 11 years.

With the new pacemaker, Sarah is looking forward to continuing her active life at an East Sacramento assisted-living facility. She participates in daily morning exercise classes, chair Zumba, watercolor painting, sculpting and as a sort of Welcome Wagon for new residents.

“I’m going to have an even better quality of life now,” she says. “My husband had one of those old kind of pacemakers that fit up in the shoulder. … I’m pleased that mine is much smaller.”

Meanwhile, she has a design suggestion for Medtronic, the company that makes Micra. Occasionally, the pacemaker will be monitored through the use of what’s called a “wand,” which is placed on the chest over the heart.

“Whoever makes them, I want them to know that’s not fancy enough for a wand. It needs to be a fancy little stick with a flower or star on the end of it,” she quipped.

Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento is the primary campus of the Sutter Heart & Vascular Institute and has been named one of the 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals in the nation for six years by Truven Analytics. For more than 45 years, the Sutter Heart & Vascular Institute has provided advanced, compassionate cardiac care for patients ranging from premature infants to the elderly. Sutter offers the widest array of heart-related services in Northern California, including expert diagnosis and treatment for heart attacks, congenital cardiac defects, congestive heart failure, valve conditions, heart arrhythmias and circulation problems. For more on SHVI, visit


Posted by on Aug 4, 2017 in Cardiac Services, Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento | 0 comments