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I have a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). Is it safe for me to get an MRI?

Written By


Published Date

November 8, 2021

It is estimated that over 3 million people in the United States have implanted medical devices such as cardiac pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD)1. With nearly 370,000 pacemakers given to patients annually, the population of patients with cardiac devices is only expected to rise year over year2. The aging population and associated comorbidities will likely require the use of advanced imaging, such as MRI, for accurate assessments of health in these patients. Because of this, patients with a pacemaker or ICD have a 75% likelihood of needing Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) over the lifetime of their device3. However, scanning patients with devices that have metallic and electronic components presents a unique set of challenges:

  • The strong magnetic field of MRI could cause damage to the device
  • The device within the MRI environment could cause injury to the patient
  • The presence of the device could compromise the MR image quality

 Each manufacturer classifies their device as either MR Safe, MR Conditional, or MR unsafe and provides specific guidance to imaging specialists to ensure patient safety.

MR Safe implants are nonmagnetic and do not conduct electricity; therefore, they pose no safety threat during an MRI.

MR Conditional implants can only be used in an MR environment that can accommodate the necessary conditions for safe use. In many cases, this involves reconfiguring the sequences of the MRI when it is acquiring images.

MR Unsafe includes any device or implant with an unknown safety status. It is not safe for patients with these devices to receive an MRI.

Recent innovations across both devices and MRI technologies have made this powerful diagnostic tool more accessible to patients with implanted devices.

With the right combination of expertise and technology, imaging specialists can mitigate many common concerns of scanning patients with MR conditional devices.

  • Proactive and thorough screening procedures to elicit comprehensive patient history and device details. This information will allow us to carefully evaluate if a patient’s particular device or combination of devices can be imaged safely.
  • Technical expertise to adjust MR imaging techniques that conform to the device manufacturer’s recommendations and ensure patient safety.
  • Adopting state-of-the-art technologies to minimize artifacts in the MRI image caused by metallic devices
  • Onsite medical experts to respond to potential medical emergencies that might occur due to cardiac device malfunction in the MR environment

To safely accommodate the unique challenges imaging with devices presents, it is vital that imaging specialists have specialized expertise as well as sophisticated MR technologies.

Not all MRIs or imaging specialists are the same as some locations may only have the technology or expertise to scan some devices. At Live Healthy Imaging, we have an onsite cardiologist with extensive clinical experience scanning patients with permanent pacemakers, ICDs, and other cardiac implants. Our staff of clinicians, physicists, and technologists brings decades of technical expertise to efficiently and accurately scan patients with MR conditional implants without compromising safety or quality.

We can scan patients with MR Conditional devices including but not limited to:


Implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD)


Orthopedic joint replacements

When it comes to patients with implanted medical devices, where you go for diagnostic imaging matters. Contact us if you have questions about a particular device and to find out if MRI is the most beneficial imaging modality.


  1. Tseng, Z. H., Hayward, R. M., & Clark, N. M. (2015, August 1). Sudden death in patients with cardiac implantable electronic devices. JAMA Internal Medicine. Retrieved November 5, 2021, from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2323414.
  2. Mevissen, M. (2018, May 16). Implantable medical devices are becoming increasingly capable. Ametek-Coining. Retrieved November 5, 2011 from https://www.ametek-coining.com/knowledge/blog/2018/may/implantable-medical-devices-are-becoming-increasingly-capable
  3. Nazarian, S., Beinart, R., & Halperin, H. R. (2013). Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Implantable Devices. Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology6(2), 419–428. https://doi.org/10.1161/circep.113.000116