The multi-disciplinary team that implanted the leadless pacemaker in an Emirati patient at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC). Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: An Emirati patient has successfully been implanted with a leadless pacemaker in a first for the newly launched procedure at the Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC).

The technique, which was approved late last year by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), was carefully chosen for the patient, whose primary issue was a life-threateningly slow heart rate.

Dr Mario Njeim, consultant cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist at SSMC, explained why the leadless pacemaker was selected for this case.

“I opted for the leadless cardiac pacemaker since our patient suffers from multiple medical problems that could present an increased risk of complications if a conventional cardiac pacemaker were to be used,” the doctor said.

The pacing system corrects the patient’s slow heart rhythm, or bradycardia, by generating electrical pulses that prompt the heart to beat at a normal rate.

“This particular type of leadless pacemakers is unique as it can map and analyse the best possible location to implant the pacemaker in the heart prior to having the device fixated in its final position. It offers an improved battery life that can last up to 20 years. It also has a unique feature that allows pairing with another leadless device that could be implanted if ever needed in the future to allow communications between different chambers in the patient’s heart. It can also be retrieved should the therapy require an update or should it need replacement,” Dr Njeim said.

The device was implanted through a minimally invasive procedure that did not require a surgical incision; instead, it was introduced through a tube inserted into a blood vessel in the groin and attached to the heart.

“Leadless pacemakers do not require insulated wires, or cardiac leads, to deliver energy to the heart which eliminates the risk of infections seen with conventional pacemakers,” Dr. Njeim explained.

“I am happy to report that the patient responded to the procedure in an excellent manner and has returned home given his healthy heart rate and overall stable condition,” he added.

SSMC is one of the UAE’s largest hospitals for serious and complex care, and was established under a joint-venture partnership between Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) and research-based American health facility Mayo Clinic.

“SSMC is a future-forward complex care hospital that ensures the adoption of the latest clinical practices and technologies to exceed patient expectations. Our electrophysiology center has proven its willingness to adapt to the latest in health care discoveries and give patients definitive answers to the most complex health conditions. Our priority will always be to place patients’ needs first and to offer personalised, integrated and compassionate care based on our unwavering commitment to SSMC’s shields of practice, research and education,” said Dr Matthew Gettman, SSMC chief medical officer.