First MRI-compatible pacemaker designed

November 1, 2001 | Source: KurzweilAI

Now there’s a solution for cardiac patients with implantable pacemakers who need to undergo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Biophan Technologies will announce today that it has developed a fiber optic-based system to replace the current metal wire that connects the pacemaker to the heart.
“This technology solves a monumental problem for pacemaker patients and will become the new industry standard,” says Wilson Greatbatch, co-inventor of the MRI-compatible pacemaker technology and Chairman of Biophan’s Scientific Advisory Board.

“More than three million people currently have pacemakers and at least 600,000 new pacemakers are implanted each year, preventing millions with current pacemakers from undergoing crucial MRI screening. Biophan’s new pacemaker will now allow these individuals to safely undergo the life-saving diagnostic test.”

Under an MRI, the foot-long wire can get very hot, which can ablate the blood vessels, scar the heart, and potentially induce a rapid heart condition, which can be fatal. The wire also picks up radio frequency interference from cell phones and other devices, which can impair the pacemaker’s performance.

Biophan’s technology replaces the metal wire with a fiber optic cable and includes the first-ever implantable semiconductor laser, which operates under very low power and regulates the heart’s beat via a microprocessor.

This completely eliminates the dangers that are caused by the exposed metal under an MRI scan, according to a Biophan statement. The device will also provide sensing functions including R wave analysis of the EKG, temperature, pressure and flow.

Biophan will serve as a supplier to the seven to eight billion dollar cardiac pacemaker industry. The company has more than a dozen patents pending for the technology, including the first implantable laser, which has potential uses in treating various diseases, according to the company.

Biophan is also developing proprietary antisense gene therapy technology to inhibit the spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) infection in conjunction with the use of lentiviral vectors. The technology is based on patents issued to Greatbatch.

How the Biophan laser pacemaker works

Battery-driven laser creates a light beam that is transmitted via a fiber optic cable.

With the laser photo catheter positioned in the right atrium of the heart, the laser beam energy is converted by a photodiode into an electrical signal that powers a miniaturized microprocessor that in turn generates timed electrical signals to the heart. Using a sensor in the catheter’s tip, the microprocessor also does R wave analysis of the EKG, temperature, pressure and flow.

Video: Wilson Greatbatch, chairman of the advisory board, Biophan Technologies, talks about the new MRI-compatible implantable pacemaker.