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Dermatol Surg. 2005 Aug;31(8 Pt 1):932-40.

Cardiac devices and electromagnetic interference revisited: new radiofrequency technologies and implications for dermatologic surgery.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, 94143-0316, USA.



As the number of patients with implantable cardiac devices escalates, inadvertent electromagnetic interference (EMI) by electrosurgery carries increasing concern for patient safety. Given the trend for dermatologic care delivery by nonphysician providers, supervising physicians must carefully consider the adequacy of perioperative evaluation in elective or cosmetic settings. Rapidly evolving technology also calls into question potential EMI of new therapeutic modalities (radiofrequency resurfacing, electrochemotherapy, and endovenous ablation). The most recently published recommendations (1998) for care of dermatologic patients with cardiac devices do not differ significantly from guidelines proposed in 1975. These recommendations, based on complications experienced during noncutaneous surgery, are exceedingly conservative and do not take into consideration the different electrosurgical modalities and varying degrees of EMI risk. In addition, modern cardiac devices have evolved significantly with increased sophistication in protection from EMI. A survey of dermatologic surgeons demonstrated low compliance with these existing guidelines.


Based on a review of the literature and current electrosurgical and cardiac devices, we discuss the potential impact of conventional dermatologic electrosurgery and new technologies. We propose that new perioperative guidelines are needed to provide appropriate safety, facile implementation, and cost-effective care for patients with modern implantable cardiac devices.

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