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Biomed Eng Online. 2017 Mar 20;16(1):33. doi: 10.1186/s12938-017-0328-9.

Personal medical electronic devices and walk-through metal detector security systems: assessing electromagnetic interference effects.

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U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Avenue, White Oak Building 62 Room 1131, Silver Spring, MD, 20993, USA.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Avenue, White Oak Building 62 Room 1131, Silver Spring, MD, 20993, USA.



There have been concerns that Electromagnetic security systems such as walk-through metal detectors (WTMDs) can potentially cause electromagnetic interference (EMI) in certain active medical devices including implantable cardiac pacemakers and implantable neurostimulators. Incidents of EMI between WTMDs and active medical devices also known as personal medical electronic devices (PMED) continue to be reported. This paper reports on emission measurements of sample WTMDs and testing of 20 PMEDs in a WTMD simulation system.


Magnetic fields from sample WTMD systems were characterized for emissions and exposure of certain PMEDs. A WTMD simulator system designed and evaluated by FDA in previous studies was used to mimic the PMED exposures to the waveform from sample WTMDs. The simulation system allows for controlled PMED exposure enabling careful study with adjustable magnetic field strengths and exposure duration, and provides flexibility for PMED exposure at elevated levels in order to study EMI effects on the PMED. The PMED samples consisted of six implantable cardiac pacemakers, six implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD), five implantable neurostimulators, and three insulin pumps. Each PMED was exposed in the simulator to the sample WTMD waveforms using methods based on appropriate consensus test standards for each of the device type.


Testing the sample PMEDs using the WTMD simulator revealed EMI effects on two implantable pacemakers and one implantable neurostimulator for exposure field strength comparable to actual WTMD field strength. The observed effects were transient and the PMEDs returned to pre-exposure operation within a few seconds after removal from the simulated WTMD exposure fields. No EMI was observed for the sample ICDs or insulin pumps.


The findings are consistent with earlier studies where certain sample PMEDs exhibited EMI effects. Clinical implications were not addressed in this study. Additional studies are needed to evaluate potential PMED EMI susceptibilities over a broader range of security systems.


EMC; EMI; Electromagnetic compatibility; Electromagnetic interference; Medical device; Metal detector; Personal medical electronic devices; Security system; Walk through metal detector

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