Saint Alphonsus gets to heart of matter with new pacemaker tech

Marc Lutz//October 5, 2023//

Kevin White talks with Angie Larkins at Saint Alphonsus. White was the first patient with a pacemaker to receive a lead extraction procedure using a laser device. (Photo: Saint Alphonsus)

Saint Alphonsus gets to heart of matter with new pacemaker tech

Marc Lutz//October 5, 2023//

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Doctors at Saint Alphonsus are using a new technology to keep the beat up … the heartbeat, that is.

The first in the state to use the tech, doctors at the medical group are using lasers to do a procedure called lead extraction to help remove pacemakers when they need replacing.

“Over the past decade, great strides have been made in the development of guidelines and protocols for lead extraction,” said Dr. Adam Grimaldi, medical director of the cardiac electrophysiology program at the Saint Alphonsus Institute.

Grimaldi added that the “state-of-the-art laser technology provides a clinically proven safe and effective treatment for lead removal.”

Some three million people in the U.S. have pacemakers, which are small, battery-powered devices that are implanted in the chest or abdomen to keep the heart beating normally. When the wires ― called leads ― need to be removed, the laser procedure provides a less-invasive and safter option than traditional methods.

According to Saint Alphonsus, “Prior to using the laser, lead extraction was a complex surgical procedure, as the leads were cut away from heart tissue. The laser is more efficient than mechanically cutting tissue from the lead. The cool laser vaporizes scar tissue at a width that is less than a human hair and creates less waste, which is easily cleared from the body.”

Kevin White, 67, was the first patient in Idaho to undergo lead extraction using the laser technology. He had an overnight stay in the hospital and is reported to be doing well after the procedure.

“My understanding is your options to have this kind of procedure done was to go to Salt Lake City or Seattle,” White, of Eagle, said. “And that’s quite a burden on folks, with motel rooms and all that stuff. So, it’s good to have this available here in the Valley for people that need it.”

Saint Alphonsus reported the use of laser technology in the procedure has a clinical success rate of 97.7%.