Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Is it okay to have an MRI after getting a stent?

Q. I needed angioplasty in 2007 and had a stent implanted during the procedure. Due to another health problem, my doctor now wants me to have an MRI. Could this cause any problem with the stent?

A. Stents are metallic cages that hold open a coronary artery after angioplasty. Metallic objects placed in the body can pose problems for MRI scans, which use a strong magnetic field and pulses of radio waves to see inside the body. The magnetic field could dislodge the object, while radio waves could make it heat up. That kind of movement and heating has been reported for some cardiac pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators. (MRI-safe pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators are being developed.)

There were early concerns that an MRI's magnetic field could shake a stent out of place. But that doesn't appear to happen for most stents. In fact, the FDA has said it is okay to undergo MRI almost immediately after having received some of the most commonly used stents.

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