Patient receives MRI-safe pacemaker

A cardiologist has implanted the first MRI-compliant pacemaker in a patient at St. Mary’s Health Center. The new device represents a major advancement for pacemaker patients, who until now could not safely undergo MRI scanning.

The Medtronic device implanted at St. Mary’s is the first in Jefferson City and among the first in the nation, receiving FDA approval only a week ago today. The hospital procedure was performed by Dr. Conrad Balcer, JCMG Cardiology.

Prior to this new technology, MRI procedures for patients with implanted pacemakers were not recommended because these patients might face serious complications, such as interference with pacemaker operation or damage to system components.

“This is a great new opportunity for our pacemaker patients,” said0 Gail Thompson, director of cardiovascular services at St. Mary’s. “The new technology opens up a whole new option for patients who used to be so restricted when it came to diagnostic testing.”

The number of patients with pacemakers in the United States is growing, while MRI scans have increased to about 40 million each year. MRI is often preferred by physicians because it provides a level of detail and clarity not offered by other soft-tissue imaging systems.

More than 200,000 patients annually in the U.S. have to forego an MRI scan because they have a pacemaker.

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