Martha Jefferson Hospital installed the first MRI compatible pacemaker in the Central Virginia region in February of 2011. The new device, just recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), provides new options for patients with pacemakers when it comes to having additional scans or tests down the road. Until now, patients with pacemakers were not able to receive an MRI, because the intensity of the magnetic field would complicate the pacemakers work. The metals used in the new device, however, are not susceptible to magnetic fields, and don't cause a problem when it comes to such scans.
"This technology will change the way we care for patients," said Dr. John Zakaib, an electrophysiologist at Martha Jefferson. "It will allow us to offer our patients pacemaker therapy and not hold them back from important imaging studies such as MRI of the brain, the joints, the spine or the heart."
Currently, if you have a pacemaker, you do not need to worry about switching to the latest technology. However, it is possible and you should talk with your physician to find out more.
The MRI compatible pacemaker can be beneficial to younger patients, who have the greatest window of opportunity for needing a scan in the future. In addition, it's also beneficial for more senior patients who may have a need for scans or tests now due to other health issues they may be facing.