Indian Path Medical Center now offers world's smallest pacemaker


KINGSPORT, Tenn. - Indian Path Medical Center in Kingsport, Tennessee is the first hospital in the region to offer a new, innovative piece of technology for patients struggling with slow heart rates.

The new technology is called a Micra Transcatheter Pacing System, or TPS, and it is one-tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker.

"It is awesome to be able to see this offered right here in Kingsport, in the Tri-Cities, and residents not have to go outside the area," Indian Path Medical Center CEO Monty McLaurin says.

The device helps regulate a patient's heart rate. The first person at Indian Path Medical Center to receive the TPS had bradycardia, a condition characterized by a slow heart rate, and his heart rate dropped below 60 beats per minute earlier this month.

"His heart would go too fast, so we put him on medicine to try and slow it down," Dr. Robert McQueen says. "But then it would go too slow and you end up kind of chasing your tail."

Dr. McQueen says the patient's heart was having three to five second pauses between beating, and that's enough to lose consciousness while you're walking or operating a vehicle. That's why Dr. McQueen said he had to act when he did, and he choose to insert the TPS in the patient's leg instead of going with the traditional pacemaker.

"No more incisions in the chest or wires or pockets for the device," Dr. McQueen says. "Cosmetically, it's seamless you don't see it."

Just days after the procedure, the patient is back at home and on his way to a full recovery.

"To be able to have the device put in and go home the next day with minimal tenderness to the groin... who wouldn't use that if it's an option," Dr. McQueen says.

McLaurin and Dr. McQueen both say new, smaller technology is becoming more and more prevalent by the day.

"Think about pacemakers back when they first came out," Dr. McQueen says. "They were as big as a hockey pucks. Now the same technology is in a .38 caliber bullet."

After a successful first surgery, Dr. McQueen has another TPS procedure scheduled for later this week.

We also checked with Wellmont Health System, and spokesperson Jim Wozniak says they are scheduled to perform their first TPS procedure later this week as well.