MetroSouth Medical Center, a leading cardiac care center in Chicago, has recently started to use MRI-compatible pacemakers in a number of its patients.
Until now, patients with pacemakers weren’t allowed to have MRIs because the magnetic field produces heat, causing the pacemakers to malfunction or induce arrhythmia. The new Medtronic Revo MRI pacemaker is made out of nonmagnetic metal and has extra insulation on the leads – the wires that attach to the heart—that better absorbs the heat.
The first patient to receive the MRI compatible pacemaker in Chicago's southland is a 74-years patient from Illinois Mr. Lee Ryan. He has coronary artery disease and bradycardia (slower heart rate) reaching 35 beats per minute, while normal individuals have about 60-80 heart beats per minute.
Sean Tierney, M.D., cardiologist and electrophysiologist at MetroSouth Medical Center, was the doctor implementing the MRI-compatible pacemaker for Mr. Lee. He encouraged his patient to use it. Dr. Tierney said "Mr. Ryan has a history of health problems that will require him to have future MRIs. This new pacemaker is perfect for patients over 65, who are twice as likely to need an MRI as compared to a younger population."
Statistics show that there are nearly one and half million patients in the US using pacemakers. Around 200, 00 of them usually need to undergo MRI scans. Yet, they skip the scanning and choose other more invasive procedures as their pacemakers are not compatible with MRI.
"Before I got the pacemaker, I was dizzy and fatigued. The usual chores, like splitting wood, were exhausting to me. But after getting this new pacemaker, I no longer have shortness of breath and my energy level has improved greatly," said Mr. Lee.