A recent study found that wireless pacemakers could be an effective and safe short-term treatment for children with slow heartbeats, U.S. News & World Report reported April 11.
The study, published in Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology, implanted wireless pacemakers in 63 children ages 4 to 21 between 2016 and 2021. This was the first pacemaker for 77 percent of the children. The implant was successful in heartbeat stabilization for 62 out of 63 children and after an average follow-up of 10 months, the pacemakers remained effective.
Seven of the children experienced minor complications after the pacemaker implantation, and three had major complications: a blood clot in the femoral vein of a patient, a patient whose heart was torn in the procedure and a pacemaker that had to be replaced after a month due to suboptimal performance.
Traditional pacemaker devices are implanted outside the heart with electrical leads running through the person’s veins. However, wireless pacemakers are about the size of a AAA battery and can be implanted directly into one of the heart’s chambers through a catheter. Once inside the heart, there is no need for wires to deliver electrical pulses.
The wireless devices have an advantage for children because it does not limit their upper body activity for fear of causing a wire to loosen or break. However, the device has to be implanted with an adult catheter, which is too large for use in smaller children, according to study authors.