Absorbable wireless temporary pacemaker that doctors can monitor at any time and “dissolve after use”

In some film and television works, such a scene sometimes occurs, some heart surgery needs to install a temporary pacemaker pacemaker to help maintain the heart to maintain function. But those temporary pacemakers often require a wire to connect to an external generator that stimulates the heart and, if necessary, to be removed after symptoms improve, procedures that can add additional risks.

▲ Picture from: WIRED

To this end, researchers at Northwestern University and George Washington University (GW) will develop a wireless implantable device that can provide temporary pacing in 2021. Only 250 microns thick and weighing less than half a gram, it is soft and flexible, with encapsulated electrodes that are softly laminated to the surface of the heart to deliver electrical impulses.

▲ Picture from: Northwestern University

This lightweight device can be used for patients who need temporary pacing after heart surgery or who are waiting for a permanent pacemaker. The device uses a near field communication protocol to wirelessly harvest energy from an external remote antenna without the need for external wires.

What's more, all the components of the pacemaker dissolve harmlessly in the body after they are not used, and are naturally absorbed into the body's biological fluids within about five to seven weeks, eliminating the need for surgical extraction.

▲ Picture from: Northwestern University

Now, a Northwestern University research team led by John A. Rogers, Igor R. Efimov, and Rishi Arora has improved the device, developing a smart new version that is integrated into a wearable sensor. The new absorbable wireless pacemaker joins four other skin-interface devices in a "body area network."

▲ Picture from: Northwestern University

A battery-free bioabsorbable pacemaker for temporarily pacing the heart; a heart module located in the chest powers the implanted pacemaker and controls stimulation parameters, and senses the electrical activity and sounds of the heart;

▲ Picture from: Northwestern University

A hemodynamic module on the forehead senses pulse oximetry and vascular tone, etc.; a breathing module on the bottom of the throat monitors coughing and breathing activity; Haptic feedback module.

Image from: Northwestern University

Sensors continuously monitor various physiological functions in the body, such as body temperature, oxygen levels, respiration, and the electrical activity of the heart. The system then uses algorithms to analyze this activity to autonomously detect abnormal heart rhythms and decide when and how fast to pace the heart.

This information is also transmitted to a smartphone or tablet, allowing doctors to monitor the patient's condition remotely. The haptic device vibrates in a specific pattern to alert the wearer when sensors detect issues such as incorrect placement of the device or a malfunctioning pacemaker.

▲ Picture from: Northwestern University

While the previous device was flexible, the new device is flexible and resilient, better adapting to changing heart beats and releasing an anti-inflammatory drug in the process as the pacemaker dissolves slowly and harmlessly. Prevent foreign body reactions.

What's more, the new device is capable of delivering on-demand pacing based on the patient's condition, and a chest-mounted cardiac module records an electrocardiogram in real time to monitor cardiac activity. In the study, the researchers compared this wireless technology to the gold-standard electrocardiogram and found it to be as accurate and precise as a clinical-grade system.

▲ Picture from: Northwestern University

This means that this simple and self-contained pacing system can automatically detect and treat diseases. Patients who need temporary pacing do not have to be restricted by the equipment in the hospital, and can recover under the remote monitoring of doctors, reducing medical costs and freeing up resources for other patients.

▲ Picture from: Northwestern University

The researchers also noted that this pacing system is most beneficial for fragile patients such as infants. Tens of thousands of babies are born each year with heart problems, many of which are life-threatening and require immediate surgery, almost all of which require temporary pacemakers.

In about five to seven days, the pacemaker is no longer needed when the heart regains its ability to stimulate itself. While the chances of complications from the current pacemaker removal process are low, having these absorbable wireless pacemakers could save babies from the pain of a second surgery.

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