Northwestern researchers develop first transient pacemaker that disappears when no longer needed

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Courtesy of Northwestern University/George Washington University

McCormick Prof. John Rogers’ lab developed the first transient pacemaker.

Rebecca Aizin, Summer Managing Editor

In collaboration with George Washington University, Northwestern researchers have created the first-ever transient pacemaker, the University announced in a Monday news release.

The wireless, battery-free and fully implantable device will naturally absorb into the body’s biofluids after it is no longer needed over the course of five to seven weeks.

The flexible device can be used in patients who are awaiting a long term pacemaker or those who need temporary pacing after cardiac surgery. It harvests energy from a remote antenna — the same technology that is used in smartphones for electronic payments — eliminating the need for batteries.

According to a study published Monday in Nature Biotechnology, the device has the potential to relieve risks of infection, blood clots and damaged tissues that can occur when temporary pacemakers are removed by a physician. It may also increase patients’ comfort levels.

The technology is the second example of bioresorbable electronic medicine
developed by McCormick Prof. John Rogers’ laboratory, the first being a biodegradable implant that speeds nerve regeneration created in 2018.

“Our wireless, transient pacemakers overcome key disadvantages of traditional temporary devices by eliminating the need for percutaneous leads for surgical extraction procedures — thereby offering the potential for reduced costs and improved outcomes in patient care,” Rogers said in the news release. “This unusual type of device could represent the future of temporary pacing technology.”

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