Pill-sized pacemakers mean one less surgery to worry about

A little something to take to heart

The FDA has approved a new, miniaturized heart implant that's making pacemakers from days past seem massive in comparison.

The Micra Transcatheter Pacing System, or TPS, is about the size of a medicine capsule and can be installed directly into the heart with a simple catheter, removing the need for a surgically-inserted cavity that's normally done to house larger devices.

According to Medtronic, the Dublin-based medical firm behind the Micra TPS, the device met safety standards by "a wide margin" when applying for FDA approval.

What's equally important is that the less-intrusive size and design of the Micra makes it approved for certain types of MRI scanning – a first for devices of its type.

Not only is the device easier to implant and less invasive than conventional pacemakers, but the Micra TPS also is cosmetically invisible. This means patients won't have distinguishing marks or other signs that they've been augmented with the device.

Pacemakers, designed for patients with difficulty maintaining proper heart rhythm, use electric pulses to stimulate a regular heartbeat.

While implantable versions of the devices have existed since the mid-'50s, the Micra TPS is the first version to offer such modern conveniences as no need for surgery or total restriction from body scanning. Ain't the future just grand?