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Currently, millions of Americans have implantable medical devices such as pacemakers. Those implanted devices make getting an MRI a problem. Every year, more than 60 million MRIs are performed to diagnose a variety of conditions, including cancer, heart conditions, Alzheimers Disease, and back pain. Sometimes, the procedure causes a fatal complication in patients with implanted medical devices.

The risk of MRIs with implanted devices is well known by most doctors, but many patients and caregivers are unaware of the problem. Anyone with metal in their body is susceptible to the danger of an MRI because the MRI’s powerful magnet can superheat the metal causing it to burn attached tissue. It can also disrupt the signal of a pacemaker, leading to life-threatening heart arrhythmias. Other devices that can pose an MRI risk include insulin pumps, stents, cochlear implants and neurotransmitters. Because orthopedic implants, like pins holding bones together, don’t attach to soft tissue, they are generally not a problem for MRIs. However, they should still be mentioned prior to undergoing the procedure.

Most doctors won’t take the risk of having an MRI done on a patient with an implanted medical device. Sometimes, there is an alternative to the MRI, but sometimes there is not. One doctor is developing an MRI-compatible pacemaker that is awaiting federal regulatory approval.

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Alice Brandt

    Jamie, I want to talk to you about the MRI /Pacemaker issue you discuss here on this web-page. I just sent you a long email in regard to this topic because thie issue involves my fields of study. Radiology, Cath Lab studies, Nuclear static and flow studies and MRI. I have done them all and I want to express something to you in regard to this topic that might enlighten you?

    If you ever have a question in regard to Radiophysics or Quantum Theory and Magnetic Resonance Perameters you should call me. I actually volunteered in the development of the very first MRI unit at Mass General under the direction of Dr. Thomas (Tom)Brady. It was a 0.6 Teslascan unit made by Technicare. I also did a small (very small-maybe two months?) amount of volunteer work at the Francis Bitter Magnet Lab at MIT Cambridge.

    I would love to discuss with you this new device being made that is going to be sheilded by magnetic waves thus allowing the use of MRI studies on patients with Cardiac Pacemaker Implants. I want to know what is being done to pacemaker implants to make them impervious to magnetic wave perturbance? What is being used to house the pacemaker that is going to achieve this?

    I am fascinated by this because it is my field of studies: Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Radiology, MRI, Nuclear Physics and Nuclear static and perfusion studies of the bone and heart. I also worked with Dr. Stanley Goldsmith at Mt Sinai Hospital in New York City performing some of the first Nuclear Cardiology studies: Gated MUGA studies, Thallium 201 Perfusion studies looking for collateral perfusion, Technetium 99m Pyrophosphate studies of acute myocardial infarct, ejection fraction studies for Cardiac Outputand End-Diastolic Volume. Chronic Compensatory Mechanisms,Wall Motion Abnormalities, Excercise Responses is also stuidied with Radionuclides and can be used in correlation or in tandem with Radiographic Cine Angiography.

    I just read more of your web page and I would love to chat with you about the Molecular Orbital Approaches and variational perturbation calculations used in Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

    I don't want to bore you Jamie with Spin-Spin Coupling Constants or Valence-Bond Theory but just a conversation about the stability of physiological atoms when perturbed with a magnetic frequency.

    Okay? Can we do a five minure phone date dedicated to this topic? I want to discuss the R&D of medical devices being made that are in theory magnetically shielded and will be unchallanged.


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