Pacemaker for artificial breathing on spinal cord injured man

Coimbatore: Claimed to be the first in the medical history of India, a pacemaker was put for artificial breathing on a 65-year-old man, who sustained spinal cord injury.

He is progressing `good` in a multi-speciality hospital here.

The man sustained severe injury in the neck in an accident while trying to help unload some pipes and became quadreplegic (paralysis of both arms and legs below the neck) and scans revealed severely broken second cervical vertbra and crushed spinal cord, Dr Nalla G Palanisami, chairman, Kovai Medical Center and Hospital, told reporters today.

Stating that the fractured neck bone was fixed with a screw by a unique spine surgery and was put on atrificial ventilation, he said there were no signs of spontaneous breathing efforts since then for three long months, though the patient was conscious, alert and communicable with everyone.

Dr JKBC Parthiban, the consultant Neurosurgeon, discussed the issue with neurologist and cardiothoracis surgeon, and implanted a pace maker-Phrenic Nerve Stimulator--and electrodes were also placed around the nerve, which supplies the diaphragm, in the neck on both sides and the battery (pacemaker) on the chest wall.

The pacemaker was then activated, which in turn stimulated the phrenic nerves to start the process of breathing and the patient was now breathing with the help of pace maker for more than 12 to 13 hours during day time and was on ventilator in the nights, Parthiban said.

"The condition of the patient is good, nearly 105 days in the hospital and his vitals are functioning normal," he said adding that this was a great challenge in medicine at present and it would take at least more than four months to make him sit or move.