Newsroom

Date: 3/20/2011

Community Hospital Doctors First in Northwest Indiana to Implant MRI Safe Pacemakers

Medtronic’s Revo MRI Surescan device is FDA approved for use around or in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment.

Patients with new pacemakers no longer need to stay away from MRI diagnostic imaging tests for fear that their device may cause an irregular heartbeat. Cardiologists on staff at Community Hospital in Munster are first in Northwest Indiana to implant MRI compatible pacemakers in patients. The Medtronic Revo MRI Surescan device is safe for use around or in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment.

“It has been estimated that up to 50 percent of patients with standard cardiac rhythm devices who need an MRI aren’t able to get one,” said cardiac electrophysiologist Mark Mitchell, D.O., FACC.

Until now, if patients required whole body imaging, computerized axial tomography (CT) scans were the only acceptable alternative, Mitchell said. But CT scans use low-dose radiation to produce images which aren’t high definition, making it more difficult to diagnose conditions such as cancer and stroke, he said.

This particular MRI pacing system is the first permanent pacing system to receive FDA approval for the MRI environment, Mitchell said. It offers advantages to both doctors and their patients who need to undergo an MRI. This test is the standard of care in soft tissue imaging, which allows doctors to see internal organs, joints and muscles in order to better diagnose patients, he said.

About 1.5 million Americans have pacemakers, devices that send electrical pulses to the heart to help maintain a regular rhythm, according to medical technology developer Medtronic.

Medical imaging and electronic implantable devices such as pacemakers are important technological advances, particularly in older, more fragile patients, John H. Burke, M.D. cardiac electrophysiologist said.

Over a lifetime, more patients will need an MRI than not, Burke said. Now, there is an alternative pacemaker that is safe for patients undergoing MRIs.

This particular pacemaker functions the same as other devices that keep the heart beating at a steady rate, except the leads (the wires that are attached to the heart) have a different design feature. Powerful MRI magnets can cause other pacemakers to malfunction or initiate an erratic heart rate if the leads heat up during the procedure.

The pacemaker Revo MRI SureScan can be programmed before a patient undergoes an MRI scan so it will not interfere with the device’s function.

“Before undergoing an MRI, the SureScan pacemaker is specially programmed and reset into a ‘safe mode’ which requires an advanced intervention,” Burke said. “But programming looks and feels much like the programming that is done during an in-office check-up appointment.”

For more information about new devices and surgical techniques offered by the hospitals of Community Healthcare System, visit our web site at www.comhs.org. To find a cardiologist or electrophysiologist on staff at the hospitals of Community Healthcare System, call 219-836-3477 or toll-free 1-866-836-3477.