The relationship between MRI radiofrequency energy and function of nonconditional implanted cardiac devices: A prospective evaluation

Amir Ali Rahsepar, Stefan L. Zimmerman, Rozann Hansford, Michael Alan Guttman, Valeria Castro, Diana McVeigh, John E. Kirsch, Henry R. Halperin, Saman Nazarian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The risks associated with MRI in individuals who have implanted cardiac devices are thought to arise from the interaction between the implanted device and static, gradient, and radiofrequency magnetic fields. Purpose: To determine the relationship between the peak whole-body averaged specific absorption rate (SAR) and change in magnetic field per unit time (dB/dt), maximum specific energy dose, imaging region, and implanted cardiac device characteristics and their function in patients undergoing MRI. Materials and Methods: This prospective observational cohort study was conducted from October 16, 2003, to January 22, 2015 (, NCT01130896). Any individual with an implanted cardiac device who was referred for MRI was included. Clinical MRI protocols without SAR restriction were used. Exclusion criteria were newly implanted leads, abandoned or epicardial leads, and dependence on a pacemaker with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator without asynchronous pacing capability. For each MRI pulse sequence, the calculated whole-body values for SAR, dB/dt, and scan duration were collected. Atrial and ventricular sensing, lead impedance, and capture threshold were evaluated before and immediately after (within 10 minutes) completion of each MRI examination. Generalized estimating equations with Gaussian family, identity link, and an exchangeable working correlation matrix were used for statistical analysis. Results: A total of 2028 MRI examinations were performed in 1464 study participants with 2755 device leads (mean age, 67 years ± 15 [standard deviation]; 930 men [64%]). There was no evidence of an association between radiofrequency energy deposition, dB/dt, or scan duration and changes in device parameters. Thoracic MRI was associated with decreased battery voltage immediately after MRI (β = 20.008 V, P<.001). Additionally, right ventricular (RV) lead length was associated with decreased RV sensing (β = 20.012 mV, P = .05) and reduced RV capture threshold (β = 20.002 V, P<.01) immediately after MRI. Conclusion: There was no evidence of an association between MRI parameters that characterize patient exposure to radiofrequency energy and changes in device and lead parameters immediately after MRI. Nevertheless, device interrogation before and after MRI remains mandatory due to the potential for device reset and changes in lead or generator parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-313
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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