MRI with a non-compliant pacemaker

I have had a Medtronic pacemaker since 2011, which is not compliant with MRI scanners.  There have been several situations where my doctors would like me to have an MRI but compromised on plain X-rays or CT scans.  However looking online it seems there is new evidence that maybe MRIs are not so dangerous after all.  My understanding has always been that it’s the leads that are the big problem, and that a simple box change won’t work.  Oddly when I called the technicians to ask if guidance has changed, he checked my file and said my pacemaker wasn’t MRI compliant but my leads were.  I’m going to assume this was a mistake though.  I have switched hospitals and I think this may have been mis recorded.  I have emailed the hospital that did the operation for clarification.

So has anyone had an MRI with an old style pacemaker and leads?  The technician did say that off label MRIs are sometimes done.  However I’m fully paced so maybe not for me.



by Tracey_E - 2019-04-04 12:53:59

It's not how much you pace, it's how old the leads are. I have not had one because my leads are way to old but my understanding is 10 years or so is the cutoff so you should be ok. Not every hospital is going to be able to do it, and it will have to be a hospital not a doc in a box place, but it's possible to safely have it done. I can think of a handful of members who have had it done, I have a friend who's an NP with a non-compliant pacer and she had one, no issues. 

Device and leads can be different

by BOBTHOM - 2019-04-05 22:17:50

Although most devices and leads are paired to be similar that by itself doesn't mean they are both compliant.  These days virtually all devices and leads are compliant but in the past there may be situations where one was and the other was not, especially around the 2011 time frame which I think is when the full compliance change over was in full swing.  Maybe they had a spare set of leads they needed to get rid of?  Hope you got a great deal on the old model closeout!  And I hope you have a sense of humor!!!. 

MRIs and pacemaker

by Selwyn - 2019-04-06 12:40:24

I have an old style non-MRI compliant PM and leads. 

My cardiologist said there are ways around the problem if I really do need to have an MRI.  So far managed with CT scans though.

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by madmey - 2019-04-10 13:07:33

I looked at my pacemaker card and my leads are Medtronic 5076.  These leads have been around since approximately 2000 and so were fitted on legacy pacemakers.  They were subsequently tested and approved to be MR compliant.  So it looks like if I get a box change then my system will be MRI compliant, but my hospital also do off label MRIs.

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Sometimes a device must be tuned a few times before it is right. My cardiologist said it is like fine tuning a car.