Medtronic leads

From Outer Space to Inside the Heart

Material in Medtronic Leads Inducted into Space Technology Hall of Fame

Colorado Springs, CO (April 18) – When expertise is shared, extraordinary results are possible. And that expertise is receiving a big honor.

A special insulation material, named LaRC-SI, was originally created for the harsh environments of space, but it’s also making an impact in the one of the world’s most delicate environments – the human heart. In April, LaRC-SI was inducted into Space Technology Hall of Fame during the Space Foundation’s 32nd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

Performa lead 4298 distal

Medtronic medical device lead

LaRC-SI insulation material is used in leads for Medtronic pacemakers, defibrillator and cardiac resynchronization therapy devices.

LaRC-SI was developed by the NASA Langley Research Center and was originally evaluated for use in space applications because of its flexibility, its resistance to chemicals and its ability to withstand extreme conditions.

Medtronic scientists were inspired to adapt LaRC-SI for use in implanted leads, or tiny wires, that are implanted in the heart through a vein that carry information signals from the heart to the implanted medical device – in this case a cardiac resynchronization therapy device. The leads are also critical for sending electrical impulses from the device back to the heart.

Navigating a lead through the human body is one of the most challenging aspects of implanting medical devices, but by building upon the expertise from NASA, Medtronic was able to make thinner, more flexible wires that help physicians place leads in difficult-to-reach places in the heart.

The technology has been used in more than 350,000 patients around the world.

"Medtronic is committed to working with leading researchers around the world to develop meaningful innovations, and our partnership with NASA is just one example of that," said David Steinhaus, M.D., vice president and general manager, Heart Failure, and medical director for the Cardiac Rhythm and Heart Failure Management business at Medtronic. "We're honored to be recognized for the development of an improved technology.”