GREENBRAE (KRON) -- It's being called the world's smallest pacemaker, and it is changing the way some patients are treated for their heartbeat.
Marin General is one of the first hospitals in the Bay Area to use the new technology.
On Wednesday, KRON4 spoke with doctors and patients about how it works.
"This pacemaker requires an incision and a cut underneath the skin, and it requires wires to be placed inside the heart," Marin General Director of Electrophysiology Dr. Sujoya Dey said.
But 2016 technology called Micra Transcatheter Pacing System, or Micra TPS, is 1/10th the size and is inserted using an IV.
"This is a shift in cardiology, so you use a small IV down in the groin and you place the entire unit inside the heart in the same chamber that you would have put the other one in," Dr. Dey said. "And it has the brains and the wires all in one."
With the older method, patients can't lift their arm for at least six weeks and take longer to recover.
"There is no incision under the skin, so there is no sense of something that's invaded your system, so just from a quality of life perspective, nobody is looking at it. Nobody is seeing it. Those things are different," Dr. Dey said.
Marin General began using the new device in July and have put it in about eight patients so far.
Seventy-nine-year-old John Irvine is one of them.
"I used to walk about 2 miles a day, and I got to the point where I just couldn't do it anymore," Irvine said. "I could hardly get from one room to the other."
So in early November, Irvine came in for the procedure.
"It was a very simple procedure for me," Irvine said. "I just came in one morning, and they laid me out here, and next thing I know it's over. And I went home the next day without any difficulty in recovery. There were very few conditions placed on me when I left the hospital."
The FDA approved this technology in 2016.
And earlier this year, Medicare agreed to cover it, but doctors say it only works for patients that have pacing issues in one chamber.
Those with problems in more than one must still go with the traditional method.
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