MRI of Cardiac Devices

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machines use powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of the body’s internal structures. However, for individuals with pacemakers and ICDs, the strong magnetic fields of the MRI machine can disrupt the function of these devices and potentially cause harm to the patient.
Fig 68 MRI
A lot of the CIEDs implanted these days are already MRI certified. This means that it has been tested extensively for use with MRI. With appropriate programming before and after the scan, it is perfectly safe to perform MRI imaging even in the chest area where the CIED is located.
However, a significant number of MRI non-compatible devices are still being used. Most cardiology department would normally exclude these patients from having MRI studies. For patients with non-compatible devices, there are a few options to consider:
  • Use alternative imaging techniques: If an MRI is necessary, alternative imaging techniques, such as CT scans or ultrasound, can be used to obtain similar information.
  • Replace the CIED with an MRI-compatible pacemaker: This involves undergoing surgery to remove the old pacemaker and implanting a new one that is designed to be safe for use during MRI scans.
  • Perform the MRI in an experienced centre: Data collected over the last 20 years have consistently shown that with careful preparation and programming, MRI imaging is extremely safe in these cases. However, this should be assessed on a case-by-case basis by an electrophysiologist to individualise the scanning protocol and programming of the device and liaise with the radiologist
It is important to discuss the options with your electrophysiologist to determine the best course of action based on your individual needs and medical history.