The latest in “electronic medicine” offers an alternative to temporary pacemakers and could help reduce tissue scarring.
THE HEART—THAT PARAGON of natural rhythm—sometimes needs help to stay on beat. Permanent pacemakers, which supply jolts of muscle-contracting current to regulate each thump, can correct chronically irregular hearts, and temporary ones can resolve fleeting dysfunctions that follow open heart surgery. Doctors wire up the heart with electrical leads that pass through the skin, and the muscle tissue envelopes the intruding electrodes like quicksand.
But if the pacemaker is just a temporary precaution, it’s all got to come out. And that’s where it gets tricky.