Medtronic goes micro, implants world's smallest pacemaker


Medtronic thinks less is more when it comes to pacemakers.

The Twin Cities-based medical device giant reports its latest pacemaker is one-tenth the size of its predecessors and can be attached to the heart through a catheter, rather than an artery. As the Star Tribune reports, Medtronic describes the Micra Transcatheter Pacing System (TPS) as about the size of a large vitamin pill.

The company says the pacemaker needs no wires – called leads – to connect it to the heart and can be repositioned if necessary.

Medtronic announced that the first implant of the new pacemaker came in Linz, Austria. That marks the start of clinical trials that will involve as many as 780 patients.

Just last week an analyst writing for The Motley Fool described Medtronic's dominance in the pacemaker market as a stranglehold, with a market share of more than 50 percent. Todd Campbell says in the U.S. and Europe the market for pacemakers is mature, but it's growing by double digits in some emerging economies, including China.

Campbell writes that the growth is encouraging to competitors St. Jude Medical and Boston Scientific, but those companies will need to out-innovate the industry leader in order to catch up to Medtronic.

News of the tiny Micra TPS comes less than a month after a study found a new generation of Medtronic's EnRhythm pacemaker was associated with fewer heart problems and deaths than traditional pacemakers.

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