Wake Forest Baptist Implants First MRI-Safe Pacemaker in the Triad

March 1, 2011

More than 200,000 patients annually in the United States can't have a MRI scan because they have an implanted pacemaker. TheWake Forest Baptist Medical Center  cardiology team is the first in the Triad to implant the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan pacing system into a patient. This new Food and Drug Administration approved device will now allow millions of patients needing pacemakers to safely have MRI scans.

There are about 1.5 million people in the United States who have pacemakers, which are used to help regulate a patient's heart rate. Previously, MRI procedures for patients with implanted pacemakers were not recommended because of the serious complications that could occur. Traditional pacemakers can misinterpret MRI-generated electrical noise and withhold pacing therapy or deliver unnecessary pacing therapy. In addition, the MRI's magnetic field can damage system components and cause lead or pacemaker dislodgement.  

“The newly approved MRI-safe pacemaker system is an important technological development that has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life of our patients,” said Thomas Wannenburg, M.D., associate professor of Cardiology and the doctor who performed the surgery. “We are excited to be able to offer this option at Wake Forest Baptist.”

Patients who are in need of a pacemaker, also often need an MRI at some point during their care. MRI is widely preferred by physicians because it provides a level of detail and clarity not offered by other soft tissue imaging modalities. The clinical information that a MRI scan provides is important in providing therapies for a variety of medical conditions. About 40 million MRI scans are performed annually in the United States and Wake Forest Baptist performed approximately 1,148 MRI scans on cardiology patients this past year.

The Revo™ MRI SureScan® pacing system was developed by Medtronic and includes hardware modifications to the device and leads that are designed to reduce or eliminate several hazards produced by the MRI environment.

Media Relations

Lisa Davanzo: news@wakehealth.edu, 336-713-4587

Chad Campbell: news@wakehealth.edu, 336-713-4587