New, smaller device could replace traditional pacemaker

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Pacemaker Pilot Study Nanostim
Nanostim, pictured next to a dime, is inserted into a patient through the femoral artery in the groin.

Some doctors say a new pacemaker about the size of a triple-A battery could be revolutionary. About 20 million Americans have pacemakers, which help people with slow heartbeats.

Dr. Sri Sundaram, Director of Cardiac Electrophysiology for Centura Health, is the only doctor in Colorado testing the new device, called Nanostim, as part of an international pilot program.

Nanostim is inserted into the heart through a small hole in the femoral artery in the groin.

The traditional pacemaker is much larger, and requires minor surgery to insert it into a patient's chest. It's attached to wires -- about 18 in. long -- that are snaked through the veins and connect to the heart. Nanostim does not have wires, Sundaram says.

Sundaram has inserted a dozen Nanostims to patients at Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver. But he doesn't expect the device to get FDA approval for at least four years. Sundaram spoke with CPR's Andrea Dukakis.