Implantable defibrillators have always suffered from risks associated with attaching leads to the heart and the often necessary surgeries to replace them. Now Cameron Health, a San Clemente, California company, is trialing a new implantable defibrillator that sits just below the skin and has no leads going to the heart, and so functions more like an external unit.
MIT Tech Review reports:
Cameron’s device, dubbed the subcutaneous-ICD, or S-ICD, uses leads placed just beneath the skin above the rib cage. Whereas a normal ICD would generate less than 30 joules per shock, the S-ICD generates 80 joules. Nonetheless, it’s only marginally bigger than a traditional ICD, largely thanks to improvements in battery and capacitor technologies. The device itself sits beneath the skin below the armpit, instead of in the chest.
The new device has another advantage, says Grace [Andrew Grace, a cardiologist at the Papworth Hospital, in Cambridge, England, who helped develop the device]: it provides a much better view of what’s going on inside the heart. Electrical noise inside the heart can confuse ICDs with embedded leads. Currently, Smith says, one in three ICD patients suffers unnecessary shocks because the ICD misinterprets the state of the heart. That should be much less of a problem with the new device, he says.
Cameron believes that despite the additional demand for power, it can get a battery life of about five years out of its device, which is similar to that for existing ICDs.
More from MIT Tech Review…