St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital First in Tampa Bay to Implant Leadless Pacemaker in Pediatric Heart Patient

February 02, 2024
A man with black hair and wearing black scrubs is holding a small medical device and smiling at camera.
Dr. Kelvin Lau holding the most advanced leadless pacemaker, the Micra AV2.


The Patel Children’s Heart Institute at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital recently implanted its first leadless pacemaker, the first among all Tampa Bay hospitals to leverage this advanced technology in a pediatric patient. The Medtronic Micra™ AV2 is the world’s smallest pacemaker — 93% smaller than traditional pacemakers.

The procedure was performed by Dr. Kelvin Lau, director of pediatric electrophysiology at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, on a teenage girl who was born with isolated congenital heart block. Otherwise healthy, she recently began experiencing episodes of dizziness and fainting as a result of the underlying blockage. One month after the procedure, the patient is doing remarkably well and back to normal activities.

“A pacemaker is designed to mimic the heart’s rhythm when there are disturbances, such as pauses in the natural rhythm, and works by sending an electrical impulse to the heart when the heart’s own rhythm is too slow or interrupted,” Dr. Lau said. 

He adds that leadless pacemakers are small, self-contained devices implanted directly in the patient’s ventricle that do not require separate pacing wires in the blood vessels. After the device is loaded on its delivery catheter, it is inserted into a vein in the leg and guided to the heart, avoiding the need for a large incision on the chest. Traditional pacemakers require an incision in the upper chest to create a pocket that fits a battery pack the size of a tea bag. The system also requires a lead to be guided through the vein into the heart. 

“The miniature size of the new Micra AV2, which is comparable to a large vitamin capsule, and the minimally invasive implantation technique, means there is no visible sign of a medical device under the skin,” Dr. Lau said. “We’re also able to avoid many of the most common complications that can arise with a traditional pacemaker like infections at the battery pocket site and broken leads.”

The Micra AV2 offers a 40% longer battery life compared to previous pacemaker versions, which means patients may be able to wait more than a decade before needing a replacement pacemaker. Due to its small size and the fact that it is leadless, it is not necessary to surgically remove the device when a replacement is needed. 

Dr. Lau notes that the Micra AV2 may not be an option for every patient who needs a pacemaker and that it’s intended for patients with specific pacing needs.

“As a regional leader in cardiovascular care, we are committed to continuously broadening our treatment options for our congenital heart patients,” added Dr. Lau. “We’re excited to be able to offer this advanced technology to our pediatric patients.” 

The Patel Children’s Heart Institute at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital is home to the Tampa Bay area’s only comprehensive congenital heart disease program. Its team of cardiac physicians perform hundreds of procedures each year to treat heart defects in patients of any age. A partnership between St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh provides families across Florida with unprecedented access to the highest level of pediatric heart care available. Together, they provide highly specialized cardiovascular care for patients ranging from babies in the womb to adults with congenital heart disease.

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