Published on July 24, 2018

Essentia Health implants smallest, leadless pacemakers directly into heart – First hospital in Northland to offer procedure

Dr. Siva Krothapalli

Cardiac Electrophysiologist Dr. Siva Krothapalli holds the Micra leadless pacemaker

History was made in the Northland when the world’s smallest pacemaker was implanted in three cardiac patients at Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth. Cardiac Electrophysiologist Dr. Siva Krothapalli first performed the procedure in June.

The device is called Micra and is about the size of a large vitamin capsule. It also has no wires, or leads. “These devices give us options for patients who are not good candidates for traditional pacemakers, either because of access issues or if they are at high risk of infections,” says Dr. Krothapalli.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Micra in 2016. It’s designed for patients who suffer from bradycardia – a slow or irregular heart rhythm –usually fewer than 60 beats per minute. When a heart beats this slow, it is unable to pump enough oxygen-rich blood to the body during normal activity or exercise. This causes patients to suffer dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath or fainting spells.

Pacemakers are the most common way to treat bradycardia to help restore the heart's normal rhythm and relieve symptoms by sending electrical impulses to the heart to increase the heart rate. “The first pacemakers were the size of a book so we have come a long way in terms of their size and what they can do in terms of their functions,” Dr. Krothapalli says.

Micra is delivered through a catheter so there is no surgical chest scar. It’s 93% smaller than a traditional pacemaker. The battery lasts ten to 12 years and unlike many other cardiac devices, patients with Micra can safely undergo MRI procedures.

“It’s an exciting time to be a cardiac electrophysiologist. There are exciting discoveries every single day,” says Dr. Krothapalli. “With advances in our understanding of basic mechanisms of the heart’s electrical system and improvements in technology and computing power, there are going to be many more options we will be able to offer our patients in the coming years.”

To learn more about Micra, contact the Heart & Vascular Center at (218) 786-3443.