A technique to insert pacemakers in heart patients, including young women, that was pioneered by Dr. Michael Giudici in Davenport is getting national attention.
Giudici, long associated with the Genesis Heart Institute in Davenport, has been practicing for six weeks at University Hospitals & Clinics in Iowa City and has already done two of the procedures he established in his hometown.
Basically, it’s a technique that uses very slight incisions in which to insert a pacemaker, or implantable cardioverter defibrillator. Giudici, a cardiovascular electrophysiology specialist, finds that the technique works much easier with women, especially because it is more comfortable and much less visible than traditional placements.
The doctor recently worked with Florida physicians on the technique, and a paper about it will be published soon in the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology.
It was more than a decade ago when Giudici became aware that scars from pacemaker surgery were very much a concern, especially for female patients.
“I went out of my way to be very careful with the incisions, but they turned out terrible” — long scars stretched across the woman’s chest — he recalled.
He learned that skin tension on a chest can be especially strong in some women. A long cut leaves quite a visible scar, which could easily be seen, especially if a woman would wear a bathing suit, a tank top or a spaghetti-strap dress.
Giudici came up with a process to make a tiny incision near the armpit. A second incision is then made below the breast. Giudici uses those two points of entry to place the pacemaker under the muscle.
“There’s no visible scar,” he said.
Giudici said his office staff in Davenport conducted a patient survey on the procedure and the response was very positive. He has completed about 180 of the procedures over the past 12 years.
He presented the survey and its findings at a conference, and that was when he learned of the interest from doctors in Florida. Those physicians had also conducted surveys on patient satisfaction concerning topics such as intimacy issues, body image and attractiveness.
Giudici hopes news of the procedure will eventually reach the mainstream press, including women’s magazines. For doctors, the procedure takes a bit more time than normal, and he thinks it will be helpful for them to learn that other specialists are doing it.
“You don’t have to be a world-famous plastic surgeon to do this,” Giudici said. “It just takes a little longer.”
He notes that pacemakers stay inside a person for 10 years or more before a battery has to be replaced. This improves the patient’s quality of life, he added.
Doctors are getting much better at detecting electrophysiological issues in persons with heart disease, especially younger patients.
“This pacemaker process helps them to lead a normal life,” Giudici said.