Placing cardiac implant leads into the heart can be a hit-or-miss process, requiring surgeons to manually tug at the lead to see how well it’s holding onto cardiac tissue. If the contact is not strong enough, a repeat of the procedure is necessary. Yet, because the testing relies on the doc’s subjective assessment of the grip, there’s a lot of room that’s left for errors. Biomedical engineering graduate students at University of Purdue developed a new tool to standardize this testing in order to improve lead placement and take the guess work out of the procedure.
The SafePace device consists of two pegs that are initially bound by a magnet. One of the pegs has a connector that is attached to the proximal end of a lead, the distal end of which has been secured to the heart. When ready, a clinician pulls on the larger peg that’s not connected to the lead in order to separate the two components. If they come apart, that means the grip of the lead holding onto the heart is stronger than the magnet’s force holding the two pegs together. If the magnet holds on, the lead placement is too weak and should be performed over again to improve its hold.
Here’s a Purdue University video with the developers talking about and demonstrating the technology: