Safety of MRI procedure

Hello everyone,

I would be grateful for some reassurance now that it is my turn to have an MRI.  I see Shana has posted below on Mixed leads - contraindication for MRI, so I didn’t want to hijack her thread by posting my own concerns there.  

Although I have been told by my EP and clinic that I have an MRI Compatible device/leads (implanted in 2018 - Medtronic Ensura DR Surescan) and that I may go ahead with a cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine MRI, I have started to think about potential problems like ?will my leads heat up, will my device/leads move, will  my device malfunction or be damaged, perhaps needing early replacement and things like that.  Please tell me that I am worrying unnecessarily with an MRI compatible device/leads? 

I am not sure how up to date the attached link is from Medtronic but it might be worth reading for those members who want to know “technically” what is involved in getting an MRI scan.  

At least I am not pacemaker dependent, so no concerns there.  My EP has offered to refer me for MRI scanning in his hospital where I had the implant, rather than having it done in another main hospital where I am receiving treatment for my spinal problems.

Thank you for any reassurance.



MIRI safely

by new to pace.... - 2021-10-11 06:43:40

You are taking the right step by having the MRI done in a large hosiptal.  Do  not over think this procedure. The MRI will only be done on the day/time when the rep. will be there.   The rep for Medtronic will put the pacemaker in safe mode, then the MRI.  After the rep will turn back on.  You should not feel anything.  

They ask if you have any metal on you, than wand you to make sure. After you have a gown on.

I vaguely recall they gave me a call button to push if i felt bad.  Never used it. 

I had this done for a MRI of my right shoulder, yes i was nervous, but knew they have done many of these.  Also gave me head phones to block out the noise of the machine and could talk to me.

My trick was to close my eyes before the machine came over and to keep them closed.  Am a little claustophobic.

Implant with MRI surescan medtronic AUG 2019, MRI Jan. 2020.  paced 49%.  Was more nervous that they would forget to turn back on.  Of course i made a point to ask and was reasured.

You will be just fine.


it'll be fine!

by Tracey_E - 2021-10-11 08:36:15

I know more than one pacer person who doesn't have an mri compliant leads and had an mri, no issues whatsoever. One was just last week. It's becoming more and more common. 

I really think the whole mixed leads thing is more lawyers and CYA.


by AgentX86 - 2021-10-11 10:10:00

You should have no problems, after you get everyone on the same page. The procedure itself is straightforward. As noted above, a PM tech simply downloads your current settings, you get your MRI  the tech then restores your settings and you're good to go. There will be no heating or other disturbances. I am pacemaker dependent and noone seemed to care. This won't be their first rodeo.

As far as lawyers covering their butt, if you can call doctors protecting their license, lawyers covering their butt,yes it is. If you call manufacturers complying with the law, lawyers covering their butt, well, I guess it's lawyers covering their butt.



It's Going to Be OK!

by MinimeJer05 - 2021-10-11 11:09:24

Interesting timing of this post as I am scheduled for a brain MRI this morning (leaving in an hour) and wasn't even thinking about the concerns of my PM as my cardiologist scheduled it, so I assumed it was fine?

I tend to trust my doctors and assume/hope that if they're scheduling these appts, then they did the double-check that my device is allowed to undergo such tests. I believe I have a Medtronic Azure (installed last month). 

Maybe it's a less of a worry since mine is a brain MRI and I'd assume just my head needs to go into the machine? I've had chest MRIs before my PM and didn't care for being fully in the machine for such a long time (45 mins usually) and am hoping this one goes by quicker, but I guess we will find out in a few hours.

Best of luck with your situation and keep us posted!



*edit, found this chart that was pretty clear on what is safe/unsafe?

Safety of an MRI

by Gemita - 2021-10-11 11:29:45

Mary, Tracey, AgentX86, Thank you all for your messages of support.  I know I have started overthinking all of this but that is my nature and being in pain doesn’t help to keep clear headed.  It is easy for me to tell other members an MRI is safe when certain conditions are met, but I am not so good at convincing myself, am I.

My main concern is that during my last full spinal MRI (just before my pacemaker) which seemed to last for quite a while, I did notice considerable “over heating” of my body.  I know several members here have also mentioned this experience too with an MRI study.  I would be especially concerned about the possibility of the leads overheating and causing tissue damage or feeling discomfort from a burning device during the duration of the scan.  

My husband though has successfully had an MRI of his thoracic spine (he has a single lead pacemaker), so I should be reassured.  I recall though they had to check whether there had been any lead movement during his procedure (with a before and after X-ray), so I presume this is a potential risk area.  

Worry not Gemita

by IAN MC - 2021-10-11 11:37:52

As you know, I had spinal surgery recently ( 3 months ,4 days and 20 minutes ago to be precise ) and had 2 MRI scans prior to the surgery.

In the grand scale of things, the MRIs were non-events......far preferable to going to the dentist !

Things I remember were :-

- the surgeon refused to do the op with a CT scan...not detailed enough !

- my Medtronic PM was stated to be safe for MRIs but my leads were stated to be "not safe"

-The chief PM technician was in attendance throughout both scans. As you know here in the UK our PM technicians are highly-qualified so we tend not to have to rely on Medtronic reps.

- He put the PM into safe mode prior to the op and restored it to its original settings immediately afterwards

- I felt a very slight warmth in the chest area during the 1st scan but not the second. I certainly was not concerned and didn't feel that I was being fried from the inside !!

It's the first I've heard about lead movement and this simply  wasn't an issue. I didn't have an X-ray afterwards

- the worst part of an MRI scan is the terrible noise

Best of luck


Going to be OK

by AgentX86 - 2021-10-11 11:41:07

No doubt.

Jer, being so recent there is little (read: no) chance that your pacemaker isn't conditional MRI safe. Even so, I hope your Neurologist knows that you have a pacemaker and has relayed that information to the radiologist. There are procedures that they have to follow. An MRI has to be done in a hospital setting. It can't be done in one of the cheap imaging centers.

I too had a brain MRI. While only your head goes into the tube, your shoulders aren't a mile away. To them, it doesn't matter.

Interestingly, the just had me empty my pockets and take off my belt and put them on a tray on the table about 10' from the machine. They didn't care that my jeans had a metal zipper an rivets. Overall it was an interesting, though uneventful, procedure. It took all of a half hour. It took longer to drive there.

Good Luck Gemita and Minime

by Marybird - 2021-10-11 11:50:19

I can't add anything to the experiences and sage advice by other folks here, just to say that my daughter, who has had a pacemaker since 2012 has undergone a number of MRI scans, including one of her heart, her brain, spinal and thoracic, and knees. She had a pacer tech in attendence and all went well.

Just wanted to extend my best wishes for successful procedures and the findings lead to successful treatments for whatever occasioned the MRIs. 

I will stop worrying

by Gemita - 2021-10-11 14:51:54

Oh the power of positive messages.  Thank you Jer, Ian, Mary, Agent, Mary and Tracey.  I will focus more on wanting to know what has happened to my back rather than worry about the process I have to go through first.  

I have Osteoporosis in the spine Mary(bird).  Have had pain symptoms for over a month now which came on suddenly, without evidence of any direct trauma.  The whole of my spine and right leg is now affected.  My right leg tends to “give way” quite readily.  I have moderate to severe pain depending on movement.  

I hope you are getting relief from your symptoms and that surgery was successful Ian.  Thank you for being so positive about getting an MRI.  If you can have an MRI scan with unsafe leads, I really have no need to be worried.  

Jer, I hope your Brain MRI scan was uneventful and the results will help you and your doctors to know how to proceed with any treatment.

You have all convinced me that I am worrying over nothing and making my pain far worse.  I go back to see consultant on 19th October and hope to get an MRI approved as quickly as possible

I Made It!

by MinimeJer05 - 2021-10-11 18:42:41

Not to hijack your thread Gemita, but I wanted to touch base and let you know that my MRI was very unevenftul and that as long as your doctors are looking at your device/lead information, you shouldn't have to worry.

Agent - You are 100% correct, my device and leads were MRI conditional safe. I met with a pacemaker nurse and he was very thorough in explaining what they were doing and how we were going to keep me "safe" during the MRI. They put mine in a safe mode that kept me at 90bpm for the entire process. It felt a little weird when they manually adjusted me while I was prepping for the MRI, but I grew use to it.

The MRI took about 45 mins and they ended up sticking my entire body into the machine. I had to change into a gown and some sweatpants and special socks -- everything else stayed behind in a locker. 

Brain scan found nothing (thankfully) and was just a way of my cardiologist ruling out all of my weird blurry/foggy vision as of late -- it has gotten much better with the addition of another blood pressure med, so I am praying that solves things.

Gemita, I hope you experience similiar outcomes with your MRI in terms of comfort and not worrying about the PM. I felt fine the whole time aside from when they put the gadalydium (spelling that right?) through my IV -- it made my arm super cold and a left a metal taste in my mouth.

Otherwise, I was just relaxing and nearly fell asleep during the process. They gave me a headset to listen to music and then had a special "mask" device over my head with a mirror, so if I opened my eyes, I could clearly see out of the capsule and where the nurses were running the MRI.

When I was done, the PM nurse came in and readjusted my settings back to my "normal". He made note that I barely ever pace and have had 7 "events" since implant. Said to him, I was pacing 0.0X of the time and that if I keep it up, this thing will last me 15 years.

Again, you have nothing to worry about and should be A-OK. Hopefully it goes as smooth as mine did.

Take care and let us know your progress :)



by Aberdeen - 2021-10-14 05:40:54

Good luck, Gemita! I have nothing to add to the previous comments. Let us know how you get on. 

MRI et al.

by ROBO Pop - 2021-10-17 22:45:13

Nothing makes me crazier than the long standing urban legends relating to our herat devices. MRI compatible devices are BS !! Fact is, and yes it is fact, MRI compatibility is a sales tool and a bunch of crap. I have had MRI's and never had an "MRI compatible" device. The reality is that most major hospitals have had protocols for years to allow MRI's with a heart device, even directly on the heart. Ah but wait....wait my derriere! Even an "MRI compatible" device requires a protocol be followed. Somebody posted an article years ago here ststing pretty much what I just said, so stop fretting over compatibility and move on. 

Robo Pop

by Gemita - 2021-10-18 07:51:07

Thank you for your usual "gentle approach".  Glad to see you are still very much with us and hope you are doing okay.

I wouldn't put it in quite the same way, but I take your point about "compatibility" and I do understand that providing certain "conditions" are met I will remain safe.  I am certainly not fretting as you suggest.

I have to say in my experience there is still a lot of concern and misunderstanding among health professionals about the safety of giving a pacemaker patient an MRI, so I don't think we can altogether blame the patient for coming on here looking for reassurance


by ROBO Pop - 2021-10-18 13:07:05

It is stunning to realize how little so many medical professionals know about heart disease in general and heart devices especially.

When I was a visitor volunteer for mended hearts I spent more time explaining pacemakers, defibrillators, and heart disease to patients who were doctors and nurses. What's really disheartening is the number of same who work in cardiac care. WTH

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