Safety of thoracic magnetic resonance imaging for patients with pacemakers and defibrillators

Deepak Padmanabhan, Danesh K. Kella, Abhishek J. Deshmukh, Siva K. Mulpuru, Ramila A. Mehta, Connie M. Dalzell, Nora E. Olson, Joel P. Felmlee, Mary L. Jondal, Samuel J. Asirvatham, Robert E. Watson, Yong Mei Cha, Paul A. Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: During magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), cardiac implantable electronic device (CIED) leads can be antennae to focus energy onto myocardium, leading to heating and arrhythmias. Clinical data on thoracic MRI safety for patients with legacy devices are limited. Objective: The purpose of this study was to identify patients undergoing thoracic MRI with legacy devices, compare the incidence of adverse events of those patients with control patients undergoing brain MRI with legacy devices, and compare paired cardiac troponin T (cTnT) values. Methods: In this single-center study, we reviewed a prospectively collected database of patients with CIED undergoing MRI from January 25, 2008, through February 28, 2017. Results: Of 952 patients (1290 scans), 120 patients (12.6%) underwent 134 thoracic MRI scans with legacy CIEDs (median [range] age 61.98 [21.24–86.96] years; male 71.1%). Median (range; interquartile range [IQR]) age of leads across devices was 3.5 (1.6–7.1; 5.5) years; implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) were oldest (median [range; IQR], 3.7 [1.1–8.0; 6.9] years). No difference was observed in incidence of adverse events between groups. Paired cTnT values were compared for 19 patients (19 scans) with no difference between pre- and postimaging values. No significant difference was present in device setting values before and after MRI (mean follow-up 72.5 days). Incidence of adverse events was no different after adjustment for ICD coil number. Conclusion: Thoracic MRI is relatively safe in an institutional multidisciplinary program. It does not represent greater risk than brain MRI for patients with legacy CIEDs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1645-1651
Number of pages7
JournalHeart rhythm
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Brain magnetic resonance imaging
  • Cardiovascular implantable electronic devices
  • Multiple magnetic resonance imaging
  • Power on reset
  • Thoracic magnetic resonance imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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