Harvard Heart Letter

Heart beat: CT scans may interfere with pacemakers, other devices

Heart beat

CT scans may interfere with pacemakers, other devices

For folks with a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD), MRIs have long been off limits. Now the FDA is warning that CT scans may also interfere with pacemakers, ICDs, and other devices.

The FDA has received a small number of reports that CT scans caused pacemakers to change the heart rate, made insulin pumps malfunction, and triggered neurostimulators to give unintended shocks to the nervous system. The uptick in reports may be due to the higher doses of radiation used in newer CT scanners.

The FDA recommends that devices that can be safely shut off be turned off during the scan, and that x-ray exposure to implanted or external devices be minimized whenever possible.

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