Citing the Guardian, MTI wrote that an absorbable pacemaker has been developed in the form of a tennis racket that can be implanted on the surface of the heart. The wireless device is designed for patients who only need to control their heart rate for a short period of time.
Since the first pacemaker was successfully implanted in 1958, the device has improved the quality of life for millions of patients. While there are patients who need a pacemaker all the time, some patients need it only temporarily, for days or weeks, such as after open-heart surgery.
John A. RogersThe new development could be used in cases where heart rate control is no longer needed after a critical period, said a professor at Northwestern University in Illinois and team leader. Although defibrillators can indeed be used for a temporary period of time, experts believe their use is not without problems, as wires inserted under the skin can cause infection. In addition, the external power supply and control system may accidentally move and the heart may be injured when the device is removed.
Researchers say the new battery-free pacemaker can be implanted directly on the surface of the heart and absorbed by the body when it is not needed.
According to Rogers, the cost of the device is about $100 (about 30,000 fort). Weighing less than half a gram, the slim and flexible chassis is wireless and can be controlled and programmed from outside the body. Materials such as magnesium, tungsten, silicon, and biodegradable plastic that are compatible with the human body and can melt and disappear over time were used in the making of the device.
Reminiscent of a mini tennis racket, the pacemaker works with wireless technology. In the system, radio frequency is sent from the external device to a receiver in the pacemaker, where it is converted into an electrical current to control the heart’s function. Rogers noted that similar technology is used to wirelessly charge smartphones and electric toothbrushes, for example.
The researchers tested the device on the hearts of mice and rabbits, as well as on sections of the human heart, dogs and live rats. In mice, the pacemaker worked for four days, and studies after two weeks showed that it started to melt. After seven weeks, the structure is no longer visible in the recordings.
According to the researchers, the thickness of the device’s material can be adjusted to suit the operating time and its deterioration according to different needs. Rogers stressed that the pacemaker has yet to be tested in humans and that it could take years to allow the new implant to be used.
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