The world is one step closer to a future where tiny ship-like vessels travel through our veins and fix our health problems. Recently, doctors across the United States implanted the world's smallest pacemaker into cardiac patients. The device is roughly the size of a large vitamin and is attached directly to the heart without invasive surgery.
The Medtronic Micra TPS is indeed futuristic. One-tenth the size of a normal pacemaker, the miniaturized technology doesn't even require wires. Unlike existing devices which are installed into a cavity beneath the skin that doctors carve out through an incision in the chest, the Micra TPS is inserted through a large vein in the thigh and pushed up to the heart using catheters. It latches onto the muscle with metal ties and regulates the heartbeat with electrical impulses.
Believe it or not, the Micra TPS isn't necessarily the most advanced pacemaker in development. That honour might go to this Tic Tac-sized pacemaker. However, it looks like the Medtronics device could be the first to hit the mass market. The current trial involves 780 patients at 50 medical centres around the world. If all goes well, getting a pacemaker could be almost as easy as getting an IV in the future. [Science Daily]