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MRI Scans with an Implanted Heart Device

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), can only be carried out for patients with a heart device if the physician follows certain safety precautions. Below, you will find more information on how you may safely undergo a MRI scan and how you can best prepare for your appointment.  

Man in an MRI tube

MRI Scans and Cardiac Devices:

What’s the issue?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans are among the most important examination procedures nowadays. They give high-precision images of the tissue and organs and are vital in the diagnosis of neurological diseases, strokes, tumors and diseases of the joints. Despite their strong magnetic fields, patients with an implanted pacemaker or defibrillator may safely undergo MRI scans.  

MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body. The MRI scanner is a large tube that contains powerful magnets. Strong magnets, however, can affect any metal implants in your body. Until recently, patients with an implanted pacemaker, ICD or CRT implant were not able to undergo MRI scans due to those strong magnetic fields which could stop the device from operating normally.  

The latest generation of cardiac devices from BIOTRONIK allows patients to undergo MRI examinations under certain circumstances. Once cardiologists know a patient is having an MRI scan, they can look up what strength of magnet the MRI machine uses, whether the implant is approved for that strength and make an appropriate plan.


What shall I do before and after an MRI scan?

Having something metallic in your body doesn't necessarily mean you can't have an MRI scan, but it's important for medical staff carrying out the scan to be aware and to plan ahead. The preparation and performance of an MRI examination in patients with an ICD or pacemaker requires close cooperation between specialists from two specialties: Cardiologists and radiologists. Without the specialized knowledge from your cardiologist, there is a risk the radiologist could delay the scan or turn you away. Seeing your cardiologist ahead of the scheduled MRI scan is therefore essential.

Woman sitting in a doctor's office

Before the MRI Scan

  • As soon as your MRI appointment is scheduled, please tell your cardiologist. The cardiologist can then check if your implant is MRI-compatible.
  • Make sure that you have the name of your implant as well as the serial numbers of both your implant and electrodes.
  • If your implant is MRI-compatible, your cardiologist will need to temporarily change the settings on your implant so that it continues to function but is safe to use in the MRI scanner.
  • Please ask your cardiologist which information you need to present to the radiologist on the day of your MRI scan and take notes if needed.
  • When you speak to your cardiologist, it’s also a good time to ask questions you may have.  
  • Check your International Implant Card.

After the MRI Scan

  • Please visit your cardiologist again, so that your device can be programmed back to the pre-scan settings.
  • If your implant has BIOTRONIK’s MRI AutoDetect technology, this process is even simpler. Before a scan, the cardiologist can set the implant to automatically switch into an MRI-safe mode when it detects an MRI machine. The implant will then switch itself back into full functionality when the scan ends and there is no need to see your cardiologist after the MRI scan.