Medical Firm Creates World’s Smallest Pacemaker

June 8, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. implant / ɪmˈplænt / (v.) – to insert something into the body
Example: A new heart was implanted into the patient who suffered a massive heart attack.

2. mimic / ˈmɪm ɪk / (v.) – to copy how someone or something looks like, works, etc.
Example: In the past, scientists tried to design artificial implants [IM-plants] that mimic the heart and pump blood.

3. directly / dɪˈrɛkt li / (adv.) – straight into something, without passing through anything else in between
Example: The medicine is injected directly into her bloodstream through a needle.

4. clogged / klɒg’d / (adj.) – blocked or not allowing smooth passage through a pathway
Example: It is very difficult to breathe through a clogged nose.

5. akin / əˈkɪn / (adj.) – closely related or very similar
Example: The metallic structure implanted inside her leg is akin to real bones.


Read the text below.
Dublin-based medical firm Medtronic has created the world’s smallest pacemaker.

The Micra Transcatheter Pacing System (TPS) is only one-tenth the size of most traditional pacemakers. A pacemaker is a medical device implanted into people with abnormal heart rate. A traditional pacemaker consists of a battery-powered pulse generator, which mimics   the heart’s rhythm, and thin wires connected to the heart called leads. Leads have sensors that detect the heart’s rhythm and send electrical signals to the heart to correct rhythm irregularities.

The Micra TPS is made up of components similar to traditional pacemakers. A major design difference, however, is the absence of leads in the Micra. Instead, it uses tiny hooks connected directly to the heart muscle to send electrical signals. This is an important difference because pacemaker leads are associated with many health risks, such as infections and clogged veins.

Another difference is that implanting the Micra only requires incision and not major surgery. This eliminates the risks of surgery complications and allows patients to recover faster after the implantation. The Micra is inserted through a thin tube placed inside a major vein in the thigh.

More than 700 people were implanted with the device in global clinical trials last year. During the trials, the device was implanted successfully on 99.2% of the patients, and the complications recorded in users of Micra were 51% fewer compared to those who use traditional pacemakers.

The Food and Drug Administration has certified Micra for the US market because of the successful trial. Meanwhile, Nanostim, a device akin to Micra created by Canada-based medical company St. Jude Medical, is currently seeking FDA approval. The said device works in a manner similar to the Micra, but it is around 50% longer.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How would having a medical implant affect how someone lives? Discuss.
·         If you could choose between taking medication and undergoing surgery, which would you choose? Why?

Discussion B

·         If you could invent an implant meant to improve a medical condition, what would you make and why?
·         Name some implants that are not intended for medical conditions. 

June 8, 2016