World's smallest pacemaker now available in WNC

    Nancy White was the first patient at Mission Hospital to receive the world's smallest pacemaker, a device that is smaller than a quarter. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

    "I'm good to go. I'm the guinea pig."

    Nancy White recently learned from her doctor that she was the first patient at Mission Hospital to receive the smallest pacemaker in the world: Micra by Medtronic.

    The pacemaker almost looks like a fishing lure and is smaller than a quarter.

    It's implanted by accessing a vessel in the groin and running it up to the heart, where, over time, it grows into the muscle.

    "There are no scalpels involved," explained Dr. John D. Rhyner, a cardiologist with Asheville Cardiology Associates. "It's a procedure done with a needle and a catheter, so there's no traditional incision."

    White needed the procedure, which typically takes about 45 minutes, to regulate her heartbeat and restore oxygen to her deprived and weakened body.

    "I feel great," White said. "It was three months the 18th of January (since the surgery)."

    "I think this is a very exciting thing," Rhyner said. "For the right patient, it's a big improvement over the traditional transvenous pacing systems."

    All the while, it's reducing infection risks while getting patients back into the beat of life.

    Doctors say the tiny pacemaker should last at least 10 years.

    After that, another one can be inserted without removing the original one.

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