Dr. Erick Burton holding pacemaker

A small, but powerful, medicine device

Last May, 73-year-old Lucy Lopez received a pacemaker because her heart wasn’t pumping correctly. “My left side was pumping too slowly,” she recalls. “It needed something to perk it up.” The device was implanted, but then removed after an infection developed shortly after the surgery.

After a course of antibiotics, Lucy was ready to try another pacemaker. But this time, the North Fort Myers resident opted to become the first patient in Lee County to receive the world’s smallest pacemaker, one that is 93 percent smaller than a traditional pacemaker.

The FDA-approved Micra™ transcatheter pacing system is an almond- sized pacemaker that is inserted like a traditional pacemaker directly into the heart’s right ventricle—but without opening the chest. Instead, the device is threaded into the heart from a small puncture in a blood vessel in the groin.

Erick Burton, M.D., a cardiologist and electrophysiologist with Lee Physician Group, implanted Lucy’s miniature pacemaker. Traditional devices are placed underneath the skin, just below the shoulder with a wire leading to the heart. Patients are left with a scar and often a bulge from where the pacemaker sits.

“The Micra™ pacemaker avoids some of the potential surgical complications we sometimes see with traditional devices,” Dr. Burton says. “Over time, the wire from regular pacemakers to the heart can become stressed by the heartbeat, causing it to break. Also, patient recovery is quicker with the miniature device. Our main concern with recovery mostly involves ensuring there are no bleeding issues at the access site.”

To implant the Micra™ device takes about 20-30 minutes, which is quicker than traditional pacemaker surgery. Both regular and miniature pacemakers generally last about 10 years before requiring replacement. But unlike traditional devices, the smaller one is left inside the patient and a new Micra™ pacemaker placed on top of it. This reduces the possibility of opportunistic infection.

”The little one is much better and less invasive,” Lucy says. “I haven’t had any problems. I’m feeling great.”

Erick Burton, M.D.
Lee Physician Group
9800 S. HealthPark Dr.
Suite 320*
Fort Myers, FL 33908
* An outpatient department of Lee Memorial Hospital

Tags: Cardiology, heart care, electrophysiology, pacemaker, Lee Physician Group