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Check Your Health: MRIs can be safe for patients with cardiac devices

KUTV MRI pacemaker 120617.JPG
Check Your Health: MRIs are safe for patients with cardiac devices (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) In the past, MRIs have been considered dangerous for people with cardiac devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators. However, a new study shows MRIs can be done safely in patients with these devices. This is good news for patients like Annette Fierro who was getting ready to have hip surgery.

“I really needed the MRI. They needed to take measurements and it needed to be very specific for this surgery,” says Annette.

However, she was worried whether or not she would be able to get the MRI because she also has a pacemaker.

“MRI is a wonderful modality for imaging soft tissue, exquisite detail. We love it, but in the past it’s been contraindicated in patients with these devices,” says Dr. Jeffrey L. Anderson, Distinguished Research Physician at Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute.

A new study out of Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute shows MRIs can be done safely for patients with cardiac devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators.

“About half of us will need an MRI by the end of our lives, and there are over, we think, 3-million people out there in the U.S. with one of these devices,” says Dr. Anderson.

That is a lot of people this can benefit. Here’s how it works…

Prior to the MRI, they will interrogate the device and establish an underlying rhythm. They then determine the necessary programming for the patient to be safe during MRI.

“If someone is pacer dependent, then we’re going to make the pacemaker what we call asynchronous,” says Steve Mason, PA-C with Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute.

This means the device will not pick up potential interference from the scan and will blindly maintain a rhythm for the patient.

If the patient is not pacer dependent, then they will temporarily turn off the device and monitor the patient while they’re in the scanner.

“They had someone here the entire time so they would be able to help me if there was any problem, but there were no problems at all,” says Annette.


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