Harvard Men's Health Watch

Ask the doctor: Pacemakers and MRI scans

Q. I have a pacemaker and was told to never have an MRI scan. Is there any way around that?

A. In the past, people with pacemakers were told never to have magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), but in certain cases it may be safe.

MRI can be incompatible with pacemakers for two reasons. An MRI scan exposes you to a powerful magnetic field, which can cause some pacemakers to malfunction. Also, the magnetic fields can heat the pacemaker wires, which then burn the area around them in the body.

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