Surgical Management of the Patient with an Implanted Cardiac Device: Implications of Electromagnetic Interference

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ObjectiveTo identify the sources of electromagnetic interference (EMI) that may alter the performance of implanted cardiac devices and develop strategies to minimize their effects on patient hemodynamic status.Summary Background DataSince the development of the sensing demand pacemaker, EMI in the clinical setting has concerned physicians treating patients with such devices. Implanted cardiovertor defibrillators (ICDs) and ventricular assist devices (VADs) can also be affected by EMI.MethodsAll known sources of interference to pacemakers, ICDs, and VADs were evaluated and preventative strategies were devised.ResultsAll devices should be thoroughly evaluated before and after surgery to make sure that its function has not been permanently damaged or changed. If electrocautery is to be used, pacemakers should be placed in a triggered or asynchronous mode; ICDs should have arrhythmia detection suspended before surgery. If defibrillation is to be used, the current flow between the paddles should be kept as far away from and perpendicular to the lead system as possible. Both pacemakers and ICDs should be properly shielded if magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, or radiation therapy is to be used. The effect of EMI on VADs depends on the model. Magnetic resonance imaging adversely affects all VADs except the Abiomed VAD, and therefore its use should be avoided in this population of patients.ConclusionsThe patient with an implanted cardiac device can safely undergo surgery as long as certain precautions are taken.

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