MRIs & a Pacemaker

I have been told that I need a pacemaker (I have bradycardia, arrythmias, av block, murmur, etc.) I also have frequent syncope which was originally attributed to my diagnosis of dysautonomia in 2005. I have had two (unrelated) surgeries in the past 8 months and I had heart problems (dropped to 20s and 30s) during and post-op the surgeries. I have been told that I need a pacemaker by three physicians, including a cardiologist that was brought in to assess my heart with my last surgery (3 1/2 weeks ago.)

I see my local cardiologist in mid-April and will most likely have a pacemaker implanted soon thereafter. I just turned 30 years old.

I require annual and sometimes more often - MRIs of the brain and abdomen. I must be able to have the MRIs for known medical conditions. I have read that pacemakers are not compatible with MRIs. Has anyone had an MRI with a pacemaker implanted?

Has anyone had the Medtronic EnRhythm MRI SureScan (MRI friendly pacemaker) implanted? I realize that they recently started the U.S. clinical trial for the device, is anyone here part of the trial?

How safe are the Medtronic devices? I have been reading about a large recall of the heart leads. Is this manufacturer safe?

I would appreciate any information you may provide.

Thank you.

Take care.



MRI's ~ don't think so

by Swedeheart - 2008-03-29 01:03:00


I am a new pacemaker patient. It is my understanding from what my doctor told me and from what I have read that you should not have an MRI if you have a pacemaker. You can have a CT scan. I have read they are developing MRI friendly pacemakers but I don't believe they are on the market yet.

My suggestion is to thoroughly discuss this situation with your doctor when you get a chance and be sure and come up with alternatives prior to pacemaker implant if you can.

You can certainly contact the major manufacturers and ask them about the likelyhood of a MRI friendly pacemaker... it would be great for all of us!

Good luck! Lots of good folks here who can answer questions. It is a good forum.

a few thoughts

by CathrynB - 2008-03-29 01:03:56

Hi Meri,
Your medical situation sounds complicated, so it's all the more important that you get complete testing and diagnosis before taking a step like getting a pacemaker, which may complicate other medical aspects of your life. Are any of the cardiologists who evaluated you Board certified in the sub-speciality of Electrophysiology(EP)? If not, I would absolutely see an EP before deciding a pacemaker is the best or only way to go. I'm not a medically trained person, but my understanding is that dramatic drops in blood pressure during and immediately post op are quite common due to anesthesia. I had this for close to 24 hours after my pacemaker was implanted, fainting several times when I tried to get out bed until my body finished processing the anesthesia out. But it sounds like you've experienced syncope at other times in your life too? Use the "search" function on this website and type in "MRI" and you will see other postings on the topic of MRIs post-PM implant. Almost all of us have been told not to have an MRI and avoid them. One or two postings I've read are from people who feel differently, including someone who has had an MRI with a pacemaker, but I'm absolutely not recommending that. Only your physicians can tell you the best course to take for your medical conditions.
Best wishes in resolving your questions and medical problems. Take care and keep us posted,


by Elizabeth4 - 2008-03-31 11:03:40


I have a 12 year old son with a pacer and I just asked the MRI question recently. I also work in a cardiac cath lab and posed this question to our Medtronic rep. (I also used to work in MRI-oddly enough) They both said that it is possible to do an MRI if you have an underlying rhythm that allows the pacer to be turned off during the scan. The new MRI safe Medtronic pacer is supposed to be safer than the older pacers, but still has the same pacing features. I did not specifically ask what was better, but I assume it has something to do with the materials it is made of. The MRI is not safe for pacers generally because it does not allow them to pace, so if you have an underlying rhythm that can sustain you during the scan you may be ok.

The most dangerous part of the MRI with a pacer is the leads heating up and causing burns. It is not supposed to be a problem if the leads are attached to a device, but if you have old leads that were not removed they can cause damage from heating up during the scan. Just something to remember for the future.

Anyway, this should give you some specifics to ask the doc when you go. Good luck with everything.

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