Oklahoma Heart Hospital announces new MRI clinic for patients with pacemakers and defibrillators

An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is frequently used to diagnose a range of health issues. An MRI is the best possible diagnostic test for soft tissue disorders. This includes brain disorders, such as stroke or tumors, along with back and spine disorders. MRI is frequently used by orthopedic surgeons to examine joints. Ear, nose, and throat specialists prefer MRI to examine sinuses and gastroenterologists favor MRI to evaluate stomach pain.

While an MRI is a significant tool in diagnosing a variety of disorders, there are also many patients for whom an MRI is never scheduled because they have a pacemaker or a defibrillator. The Oklahoma Heart Hospital’s MRI Device Clinic, the first of its kind in central Oklahoma, makes MRIs an option for many of these patients through a specialized protocol.

Patients with pacemakers or defibrillators will first be evaluated at the MRI Device Clinic to ensure they fit the criteria for an MRI. For patients who do fit the criteria, the clinic will then schedule an appointment for the MRI.

For many patients, the ability to get an MRI while also having a pacemaker or defibrillator is a life-changing development. For example, if a 20-year-old has a defibrillator due to a heart rhythm issue and later develops brain cancer, an MRI plays a significant role in properly diagnosing and treating that cancer. 

Prior to 2014, most patients with implanted devices were simply told no MRI because the FDA had not approved any devices for use with MRI. There are approximately 2 million patients with pacemakers and defibrillators implanted prior to 2014 in the United States. While there are now specific devices with FDA approval for MRI, the availability of the MRI Device Clinic allows a great number of patients with pacemakers or defibrillators to safely undergo MRIs when needed. 

Determining when an MRI is needed is still up to the ordering provider, such as a primary care physician or specialist. Once an MRI has been ordered, the patient can call the MRI Device Clinic to set an appointment. 

Not every patient with a pacemaker or defibrillator will qualify for an MRI after the initial evaluation. For those who do qualify, the MRI process will use a specialized protocol with increased monitoring and specific limitations that create a safer process for patients with a device. 

If you have a pacemaker or defibrillator and need an MRI, contact the Oklahoma Heart Hospital at (405) 608-3800 and request an appointment with the MRI Device Clinic.