Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Hope is on the way for millions of pacemaker patients ordained against undergoing an MRI scan even in the most life threatening conditions so that the implant is not damaged by exposure to the electromagnetic field.

The newest medical technology wonder is an MRI-friendly pacemaker, which is ideal for elderly patients who are likely to be recommended an MRI scan to help specialists chart the course for treatment of cancer or neurological disorder.

Madras Medical Mission (MMM) has joined the select band of tertiary cardiology centres in the country to perform MRI-compatible pacemaker implants on three patients.

The hospital is, perhaps, the first institution to perform three successful implants with the ‘EnRhythm MRI SureScan’ manufactured by Medtronic pacemakers in a span of two weeks.

“Of the three patients, a 66-year-old was subjected to an MRI diagnosis to help treat his critical co-morbid condition without any contraindication,” said Ulhas Pandurangi, MMM’s interventional cardiologist who has specialised in electro-physiology.

In India, about one million patients with pacemakers that restore normal rhythm of the heart are denied optimal treatment for other serious disorders because an MRI investigation is ruled out.

It is pointed out that new generation pacemakers, which are resilient when exposed to radiation in CT scans, even rays from natural sources, cellphones or electronic devices, wilt when passed through the electromagnetic field of an MRI machine.

“The pacemaker can be permanently damaged imperilling the survival of the patient,” said Dr.Pandurangi. MMM plans to proactively recommend the MRI-friendly pacemaker as the first choice to its heart patients, who are likely to require it in the conceivable future.

Dr.Pandurangi said that while the MRI-compatible pacemaker opens up a new world of promise for heart patients with pacemakers, the device could be ideal for any prosthesis that involves ferrous content.