A pacemaker is a device implanted near the chest to help regulate an abnormal heartbeat by sending electrical pulses to the heart muscle. Some patients may only need a pacemaker for a few days. In this case, the battery-powered pacemaker is placed outside and the wire is connected to the heart and then the wire is removed. There is a risk of lead infection in the conductors, accidental disconnection of external power and control systems, and damage to heart tissue when the device is removed.
To prevent this, a wireless smart pacemaker that can be safely decomposed in the body after operating for a short period of time made of materials such as iron, magnesium, and silicon in small amounts is expected to become a reality in the near future. Based on the research papers of Northwestern University researchers published in Science, the US health medicine webzine ‘Health Day’ recently reported on the content.
Northwestern University Professor John A Rogers (Biomechanical Engineering) research team published a paper in Nature Biotechnology last year that they succeeded in early development of a wireless dissolving pacemaker made of a material that biodegrades in a few weeks instead of a temporary pacemaker used today. announced. This paper focused on a pacemaker that does not require a battery and operates wirelessly because a thin, flexible capsule with an electrode bottom that adheres to the heart is made up of multiple layers.
This paper added parts to be built into the pacemaker. It is a thin wireless sensor network and control device that attaches to the skin. These components become involved in regulating the heart’s heartbeat, monitoring the heart’s electrical activity and other bodily processes such as respiration rate. It is also designed to detect problems such as a cardiac pacemaker malfunction and notify the patient. It also has a smart feature that can stream this information, allowing remote check-ups by doctors.
Professor Rogers explains that the pacemaker will allow patients to move around freely after surgery. It also eliminates the need to stay in the hospital for weeks when biodegradation takes place. So, “I can only imagine a future where I just check a few things and go home right after surgery,” he said.
There are still challenges to be solved. The device has only been tested in laboratories with animal and human heart tissue. Clinical trials for use in living patients have not yet been conducted.
Jim Chung, a cardiologist at Cornell University, who is the head of the electrophysiology division of the American Academy of Cardiology (ACC), said this study will be of practical help to patients whose heart rate slows down for a short period of time right after heart surgery. He also sees that he could serve as an intermediate bridge until a new permanent device is implanted in a patient who needs to have their pacemaker removed due to an infection outbreak.
Northwestern researchers have come up with another scenario. It can also be helpful when performing surgery on newborns born with a congenital hole in the atrium wall above the heart. In addition, it is explained that the wireless smart system that detects malfunctions of the heart or device and enables self-repair can also be applied to other fields.
This pacemaker weighs only 0.5g and is made only from substances found in vitamin pills. Professor Rogers emphasized that there is no problem even if it dissolves in the human body, and said, “There is no foreign substance in the human body.”
The paper can be found at the following link (https://www.science.org/doi/pdf/0.1126/science.abm1703?download=true).
By Han Gun-pil, reporter email@example.com