ATLANTA, Ga. (April 14, 2011) –Piedmont Heart Institute physicians at the Fuqua Heart Center of Atlanta at Piedmont Hospital are now offering MRI-compatible pacing systems. This advanced pacemaker, designed to work safely and effective in an MRI environment, received FDA approval the first week of February and Piedmont performed its first implantation of the device February 16.
Wilma Bowen, 61, of Douglasville, Georgia, is the most recent recipient. Twelve years ago, her electrophysiologist, Stephen Prater, M.D., performed a procedure to correct her irregular heartbeat. It wasn’t until one month ago that she began to experience problems with her heart again.
“I’ve always trusted Dr. Prater to present the best options available for my care,” said Bowen, who works as a licensed practical nurse. “I knew a pacemaker would allow me to continue my life as usual with only a few exceptions. Having access to MRI for any future care needs is a convenience that I will definitely recommend to others.”
Patients with a pacemaker can face serious complications if exposed to the powerful magnetic fields generated by MRI machines. It has been estimated that there is a 50 to 75 percent probability that cardiac device patients will need an MRI over the lifetime of their devices. Furthermore, more than 200,000 patients annually in the United States must forego an MRI scan because they have a pacemaker.
“This is an exciting development for those patients who rely on pacemakers to stay alive,” said Dr. Prater. “This advanced pacemaker opens the doors for cardiologists to minimize the barriers and risks once associated with MRIs in order to best diagnose and monitor their patients. Piedmont Hospital is proud to offer this groundbreaking device to its patients.”
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. MRI is often preferred by physicians because it provides a level of detail and clarity not offered by other soft tissue imaging modalities.