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UPMC Media Relations

UPMC First in Region to Offer MRI-Safe Pacemaker to Patients

PITTSBURGH, May 25, 2011 – UPMC is offering a new option for patients with implanted pacemakers who in the past could not  get magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) done because of the scan’s potential to disrupt the pacemaker’s function. Doctors at UPMC are the first in the region to begin implanting an MRI-compatible pacemaker that was recently approved by the FDA.

“This new device allows patients to receive an MRI, which could lead to the detection and treatment of serious medical conditions that may not be found in patients implanted with traditional pacemakers,” said Joon S. Lee, M.D., co-director, UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute. 

The number of patients with pacemakers is growing at the same time that the use of MRI is increasing. About 40 million MRI scans are performed annually in the United States, and it is estimated that more than 200,000 patients every year are unable to get an MRI because they have a pacemaker. MRI often is preferred by physicians over other scans because it provides detailed images of the inside of the body.

Physicians can put the new pacemaker, developed by Medtronic, on a special setting which allows it to safely be used while the patient is undergoing an MRI. Traditional pacemakers can misinterpret MRI-generated electrical noise and change the frequency of pacing or damage the pacemaker’s components.

“Medical imaging and electronic implantable devices such as pacemakers are important technological advances, particularly for older people,” said Andrew Voigt, M.D., a UPMC cardiologist who has implanted the device in patients. “UPMC is proud to provide safer access to MRI for our patients. We encourage our patients to talk to their doctors about which pacing system is right for them.”

About UPMC

UPMC is a $9 billion global health enterprise with more than 50,000 employees headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., and is transforming health care by integrating more than 20 hospitals, 400 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, a health insurance services division, and international and commercial services. Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC is redefining health care by using innovative science, technology, and medicine to invent new models of accountable, cost-efficient, and patient-centered care. For more information on how UPMC is taking medicine from where it is to where it needs to be, go to


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