Use Caution When Applying Magnets to Pacemakers or Defibrillators for Surgery

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Abstract

The application of a magnet to a pacemaker (intended to cause asynchronous pacing) or implanted cardioverter defibrillator (intended to prevent shocks) during surgery without a clear understanding of actual magnet function(s) or precautions can have unexpected, untoward, or harmful consequences. In this report, we present 3 cases in which inadequate assessment of cardiac implanted electronic device (CIED) function, coupled with magnet application, contributed to or resulted in inappropriate antitachycardia pacing or shocks, CIED damage, or patient injury. Although these cases might be rare, they reinforce the need for a timely, detailed preoperative review of CIED function and programming as recommended by the American Society of Anesthesiologists and the Heart Rhythm Society.

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