University of Chicago Medical Center first in nation to implant unique cardiac lead

April 28, 2009

Following FDA approval, cardiologists at the University of Chicago Medical Center are the first in the U.S. to implant the thinnest lead body for left-heart leads into a patient. Approved earlier this month by the FDA, the device makes improved treatment possible for certain patients with heart failure.

The lead is used with an implantable cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) device and helps physicians deliver CRT by accessing very small cardiac veins. In many cases, those small veins can be the best spots to implant leads to resynchronize cardiac rhythms in patients.

Measuring 1.32 millimeters in diameter (or 4 French, a standard measurement system for cardiac leads), the lead is slightly thinner than other left-heart leads. That miniscule size can make a big difference in where the lead can be placed in the heart.

"In the world of heart anatomy, a fraction of a millimeter means a lot," said University of Chicago Medical Center cardiologist Albert Lin, MD, who implanted the lead. "The size of this lead allows it to be placed in incredibly small cardiac veins where some patients need it to receive better CRT."

The lead is placed in the lateral cardiac vein on the exterior of the left ventricle and is connected to a CRT device, which sends electrical pulses to help keep the left ventricle in unison with the right ventricle. The bipolar lead contains two electrodes that an electrophysiologist (a physician who specializes in heart rhythm problems) can program in order to pace the heart.

The first lead was implanted in Aloys Buir, 82, of Arlington Heights on April 23, 2009.

For some patients, resynchronization therapy will work best when the lead is implanted in a small lateral cardiac vein, Lin explained.

"Until now, we might hit an impasse because other leads were too big or bulky to insert in very small vessels or vessels with difficult anatomy. This new lead gives us the chance to help patients when other leads don’t work well," Lin said.

The "Attain Ability" lead was approved by the FDA in early April. In clinical trials, it had the highest success rate of any left-heart lead. It was developed and is manufactured by Medtronic, Inc.

About the University of Chicago Medical Center
The University of Chicago Medical Center, established in 1927, is one of the nation's leading academic medical institutions. It consists of the renowned Pritzker School of Medicine; Bernard Mitchell Hospital, the primary adult patient care facility; Comer Children's Hospital, devoted to the medical needs of children; Chicago Lying-in Hospital, a maternity and women's hospital; and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine, a state-of-the-art ambulatory-care facility with the full spectrum of preventive, diagnostic, and treatment functions. Care is provided by more than 700 attending physicians--most of whom are full-time University faculty members--620 residents and fellows, more than 1,000 nurses and 9,500 employees.

The Medical Center is consistently recognized as a leading provider of complex medical care. It is the only Illinois hospital ever to make the U.S.News & World Report Honor Roll, with eight clinical specialties--digestive disorders; cancer; endocrinology; neurology and neurosurgery; heart and heart surgery; kidney disease; geriatrics; and ear, nose and throat--ranked among the top 30 programs nationwide. The Medical Center was awarded Magnet status in 2007, the highest level of recognition for nursing care.

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