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Shrinking the pacemaker

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Shrinking the pacemaker
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At the Meditronic Company in Switzerland a new generation of equipment is being produced, from gloves and masks to much more complicated devices such as pacemakers.

As with much in medical engineering, design and innovation moves swiftly.

Pacemakers have evolved rapidly over the years and are now less than half their original size and are continuing to shrink.

Spokesperson Patrick Rosset said: “Here on this pacemaker we have a connector which links the pacemaker through a probe in the heart. In the future, mini pacemakers will be much smaller and will be fitted directly in the heart, without a probe.”

A smaller device means the entire chain of production is changed.

Rosset explained: “We need to find technologies to make them smaller and smaller. For example, this exterior battery is 10 times smaller than the ones we use today. So you can imagine the technical challenge that presents to our engineers.”

As the pacemaker becomes smaller, surgeons say there is a real possibility of inserting it into a patient via a catheter through a small incision in the leg.

It is a less invasive and less complicated procedure. It could also help make hospitals more efficient, by reducing the time it takes to carry out the procedure.

But the devices are still in the testing stage and developers say it will be three to five years before the new miniature pacemakers will start to be used.