What are temporary pacing leads?

Temporary leads are used in more than 350,000 procedures each year, a number that is growing rapidly as the population ages and transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) becomes increasingly common. The temporary pacing lead, a small catheter with two electrodes, is placed in the right ventricle of the heart through a vein in the groin or neck. The lead is then connected to an external pacemaker allowing a physician to monitor and control a patient’s heart rate for up to several days.  

Current temporary pacing leads can cause complications

The design of conventional temporary pacing leads can cause serious complications. Current temporary leads can be easily dislodged from the heart, which may result in loss of pacing, with serious consequences for the patient. As a result, patients are often limited to bed rest for the duration of temporary pacing lead placement, delaying ambulation and thereby increasing length of stay in costly hospital units such as intensive care. In addition, current leads risk perforation of the heart wall, which may lead to pericardial effusion and tamponade, in which blood from within the heart escapes into the sac surrounding the heart, leading to potentially life-threatening cardiac compression.