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Expert Rev Cardiovasc Ther. 2008 Jul;6(6):823-32. doi: 10.1586/14779072.6.6.823.

Implantable rhythm devices and electromagnetic interference: myth or reality?

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  • 1Electrophysiology Service, Department of Cardiology, Montreal Heart Institute, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada.


Current medical guidelines have prompted implementation of increasing numbers of implantable rhythm devices, be they pacemakers, internal cardioverter-defibrillators or loop recorders. These devices rely on complex microcircuitry and use electromagnetic waves for communication. They are, therefore, susceptible to interference from surrounding electromagnetic radiation and magnetic energy. Hermetic shielding in metallic cases, filters, interference rejection circuits and bipolar sensing have contributed to their relative resistance to electromagnetic interference (EMI) in household and workplace environments. Device interactions have occurred in hospitals where EMI sources are ubiquitous, including radiation, electrocautery and MRI exposures. However, with rapidly evolving technology, devices and potential sources of EMI continue to change. This review provides a contemporary overview of the current state of knowledge regarding risks attributable to EMI; highlights current limitations of implantable rhythm devices; and attempts to distinguish myths from realities.

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