MRI With a Defibrillator?
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Can you have an MRI if you have a defibrillator in your body? My mother-in-law may have suffered from a stroke while in the hospital. We were told there is no way to check because of her heart condition. Can you please answer this for me? I'm sure there must be other options. Thanks.
— Theresa, Kentucky
It's true that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is not an option for people who have received a defibrillator implant. This type of imaging test uses a powerful magnetic field that can potentially affect the settings of the defibrillator and cause problems with its functioning. An MRI can also lead to serious complications like tissue damage around the defibrillator or even an abnormal heart rhythm — the very problem a defibrillator is meant to correct. In your mother-in-law's case, it might be possible to do a head CAT scan (CT) without a contrast media to determine whether she did indeed suffer a stroke. CT scans produce images much like an X-ray, except they go deeper in showing the internal structures of bones and organs. CT scans are generally safe for people with defibrillators, but a stroke may not show up on the scan until some time has passed. This may be her case, but keep in mind that some patients might also benefit from a noncontrast CT scanearly onto detect any infections, tumors, or inflammatory processes that might be causing symptoms that could resemble a stroke. If you have not yet found your answer, please ask your mother-in-law's doctor about this option.
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