Mammography and oacemakers

In late 2013 I had a mammogram done in the facility where I have had most of my mammograms - the Tech was especially aggressive and when I cautioned her that I have a pacemaker her pat answer was “ mammograms do not interfere with pacemakers”. Starting in January of 2014 I began having pulsations in my left anterior chest wall intermittently.  However due to the fact that my pacemaker still had at least or over a “year of battery life left”. I was advised that the issue would be addressed when my generator pack was replaced.  

In March iof 2015 the pacemake indicated that there were 3-6 months left on the battery pack so I was told to return in Early June.  At that time my pacemaker had cut back to conserve energy on April 1 - thru many circumstances not under my control and too lengthy to go into - I was not able to have my generator pack & leads replaced until 7/28/2015.  At that time both of the old leads were removed & replaced and a new generator pack installed.  Within 48 hours I was back in surgery because of chest pain and difficulty breathing with a diagnosis of “micro-perforation.  The leads & generator pack were repositioned.  I was sent home 240 miles away 48 hrs after surgery.  2 weeks later I could not take a deep breath. I also could not eat due feeling full, abdominal pressure & my abdomen was swollen or distended terribly.  Went to ER where it was discovered that I had: pericardial effusion (fluid in the sac around my heart), plural effusion in both lungs (fluid had backed up into my lungs) and finally fluid had also backed up into my abdominal cavity as well as my feet and legs.  I was admitted into a sort of cardiac ICU 72 hours later a cardio thoracic surgeon drained 700ccs if blood from my pericardial space. Usually that space only has about 30ccs.  

The hospitalist was very anxious to have my post op bed so he dumped me in the corner to be picked up less than 12 hours of being transferred out of surgical cardiac ICU- although the surgeon had indicated that I would not leave until the next day. I had more incidents requiring ER attention during the fall of 2015- but I will not list them.

It took over 2 years to recover from all of this. And I am still not 100% what I was before that tech fractured my lead.

I am sorry my post is so long — bottom line: Caution mammogram techs that you do have a pacemaker and if they do not respect your concern - find another place which will not use excessive pressure to fracture your leads!  


2 Comments

WOW

by Swangirl - 2018-12-10 12:19:45

What a story!  I'm so sorry you went through all of this.  I had no idea that a mammogram could damage a lead.  Thank you for posting and letting us know.  Sometimes its possible to ask for an ultrasound instead of a mammogram, which is much better at detecting cancer, especially for dense breasts.  

Mammagrams

by Alma Annie - 2018-12-13 21:38:37

Oh dear. I had one 6 years ago.  I told tech about pacemaker. Since I am very thin it does protrude somewhat. It was the new digital M.  So when she came to do left side of left breast she pushed her machine hard. So hard it hurt mega and I yelled.  She had the cheek to ask if it had hurt to which I replied that I would not have yelled if it had not hurt.  The result was that the leads are now almost under my arm and can be uncomfortable.  I saw EP soon after and he assured me that all was working and there was nothing he could do until he changed battery and I had only had pm just over a year.  When time came for another mama I declined.  They insisted but I said no and explained why.  Then I was offered an ultrasound. No worries there. I had been concerned as I am 100% paced in atrium. 

Hope all goes well for you.

Alma Annie.

You know you're wired when...

You can hear your heartbeat in your cell phone.

Member Quotes

I feel so blessed to have this little gem implanted in me. When I think of the alternative it is quite overwhelming sometimes.