The BVI Health Services Authority (BVIHSA) has recorded its first pacemaker insertion procedure.
The surgery was conducted at Peebles Hospital on March 13 by Dr Roger Miller, a cardiothoracic surgeon with more than eight years experience in that speciality.
The procedure effectively involves inserting a small electronic device in a person’s chest to help regulate their heartbeats.
According to Dr Miller who is the team leader for cardiothoracic services at the hospital, the procedure was done in one of the hospital’s the operating rooms under local anaesthesia with partial sedation.
“Electrodes were passed through large veins and secured on the inner aspect of the heart with the use of x-rays to visualize the procedure in real-time,” he said after the successful surgery.
He said there were “no visible mechanical parts and the procedure was so seamless that the patient was able to return home within 24 hours after implantation and following observation.”
The surgeon added that he was looking forward to continuing more pacemaker placement surgeries as well as introducing other devices such as implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) at the state-owned medical facility.
ICD’s are small devices placed in the chest or abdomen to treat irregular heartbeats, which is known as arrhythmias.
Dr Miller said the risk of complication from these procedures is very low once adequate precautions are taken.
“These devices can last for many years before being depleted and is largely dependent on how much the patient requires it. If adequate follow-up is maintained, then a replacement can be done close to the time of depletion.”
Giant step forward
In the meantime, Chief of Medical Staff Dr June Samuel described the undertaking as a major one.
“Healthcare services for patients with cardiovascular (heart) conditions in the Virgin Islands have taken a giant step forward,” she said.
She said heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the territory.
Dr Samuel added that diabetes and hypertension are also prevalent.
“It is imperative that as part of controlling the cost of health services or just keeping cost down, the BVIHSA expands into the provision of services such as these locally,” she said.
The BVIHSA provides weekly pacemaker clinics and is expected to expand their service offerings to residents even further.
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