June 2, 2012
Advanced Surgical Techniques
Advancements in Surgical Technology: Pacemakers
Prepared for Rebecca Hall
Since 1932, cardiac arrhythmias have been treated by the use of pacemakers. According to the article, “The Evolution of Pacemakers”, “An artificial pacemaker is a device that delivers a controlled, rhythmic electric stimulus to the heart muscle in order to maintain an effective cardiac rhythm for long periods of time” (Sandro A.P. Haddad, 2006). In the earliest stages, pacemakers were quite primitive but evolved to become much more practical in size, weight and mobility. There is evidence that a raw electric current was applied externally to stimulate the heart as early as the mid-eighteenth century (Glen D. Nelson, 1993). Some of the most notable and effective early models from the 1920s and 1930s include a hand-crank devices and devices that required the use of electrical sockets. These devices required the “plunging of a needle into the ventricle” (Glen D. Nelson, 1993). These devices were not well-received by the public and seen as blasphemous. However, Dr. Paul Zoll developed an external pacemaker in the 1950s that was widely accepted and prompted the manufacture and development of more modern pacemakers (Glen D. Nelson, 1993). The establishment of implantable pacemakers began in 1958. Notable doctors such as Ake Senning, Rune Elmqvist and W.M. Chardack along with Wilson Greatbatch, an engineer, were all instrumental in refining pacemaking devices and making them portable with the use of batteries (Sandro A.P. Haddad, 2006). Although these pacemakers were a vast improvement on previous models, they also had a fundamental flaw. The first implantable pacemakers were asynchronous and had the potential to compete with the natural rhythm of the heart. According to the Association of Surgical Technologists, these pacemakers are now rarely used because of the potential to cause ventricular fibrillation (Association of Surgical...