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Circulation. 2006 Sep 19;114(12):1285-92. Epub 2006 Sep 11.

Strategy for safe performance of extrathoracic magnetic resonance imaging at 1.5 tesla in the presence of cardiac pacemakers in non-pacemaker-dependent patients: a prospective study with 115 examinations.

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University of Bonn, Department of Radiology, Bonn, Germany.



The purpose of the present study was to evaluate a strategy for safe performance of extrathoracic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in non-pacemaker-dependent patients with cardiac pacemakers.


Inclusion criteria were presence of a cardiac pacemaker and urgent clinical need for an MRI examination. Pacemaker-dependent patients and those requiring examinations of the thoracic region were excluded. The study group consisted of 82 pacemaker patients who underwent a total of 115 MRI examinations at 1.5T. To minimize radiofrequency-related lead heating, the specific absorption rate was limited to 1.5 W/kg. All pacemakers were reprogrammed before MRI: If heart rate was <60 bpm, the asynchronous mode was programmed to avoid magnetic resonance (MR)-induced inhibition; if heart rate was >60 bpm, sense-only mode was used to avoid MR-induced competitive pacing and potential proarrhythmia. Patients were monitored with ECG and pulse oximetry. All pacemakers were interrogated immediately before and after the MRI examination and after 3 months, including measurement of pacing capture threshold (PCT) and serum troponin I levels. All MR examinations were completed safely. Inhibition of pacemaker output or induction of arrhythmias was not observed. PCT increased significantly from pre- to post-MRI (P=0.017). In 2 of 195 leads, an increase in PCT was only detected at follow-up. In 4 of 114 examinations, troponin increased from a normal baseline value to above normal after MRI, and in 1 case (troponin pre-MRI 0.02 ng/mL, post-MRI 0.16 ng/mL), this increase was associated with a significant increase in PCT.


Extrathoracic MRI of non-pacemaker-dependent patients can be performed with an acceptable risk-benefit ratio under controlled conditions and by taking both MR- and pacemaker-related precautions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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