Safety in older devices

As doctors, we have always been worried about the risk in carrying out MRI for patients with pacemakers. This is because metal boxes in big magnets are in theory not a good combination.

Half of us will benefit from an MRI in our lifetime, because they are excellent at detailing soft tissue. But patients with pacemakers may not have access to these scans, meaning they may have difficulty getting a diagnosis and treatment, and this affects over half a million people living in the UK, or 3 million living in the USA.

These scans have been considered risky, but the extent of this risk has not really been known. And so two recent studies explored this by performing over 3000 MRI scans in patients with pacemakers and cardiac defibrillators. All of these scans were carried successfully, and that there they found that there were no serious consequences.

More details can be found here and here.

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