Vanderbilt Heart offers first MRI-friendly pacemaker in Middle Tennessee

Vanderbilt Heart and Vascular Institute is now able to offer a new pacemaker that is MRI-conditional. The Revo MRI™ SureScan® pacing system is the first one designed, tested and FDA- approved for use in the MRI. Vanderbilt is the only medical center in Middle Tennessee and the second in the state to offer this device.

Walter Clair, M.D., medical director of Cardiac Electrophysiology, implanted Vanderbilt’s first REVO MRI SureScan pacemaker in 59-year-old Mary Gulley of Shelbyville, Tenn., on Feb. 16.

Gulley has chronic low back pain, and occasionally needs an MRI to monitor it.

“When we initially spoke with Miss Gulley about getting a pacemaker for her abnormal heart rhythm, we talked about the limitations, and I had to tell her she could no longer have MRIs,” Clair said. “She was concerned about that. When we realized we were going to be able to put in one of these new pacemakers, and I asked her if she’d like to be that first patient for us, she was very pleased.”

MRI scanners may cause traditional pacemakers to misinterpret MRI-generated electrical noise and withhold pacing therapy or deliver unnecessary pacing therapy. The Revo MRI pacing system can be programmed into SureScan mode prior to an MRI scan, with the ease of an external remote control, making it relatively safe for use in the MRI. Afterward, it can be programmed to resume normal status.

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 Vanderbilt performs about 29,593 MRI procedures each year.

It has been estimated that there is a 50 percent to 75 percent probability that cardiac device patients will need an MRI over the lifetime of their devices, and more than 200,000 patients annually in the United States may have to forego an MRI scan because they have a pacemaker.

“We have parallel technologies. One is therapeutic – the pacemaker – and the other diagnostic – the MRI. At Vanderbilt Heart, we use MRI more than we did five or 10 years ago to help us with the diagnosis and management of our patients who have heart problems,” Clair said.

“Now they don’t have to rob Peter to pay Paul. They don’t have to compromise the diagnostic benefit of MRI in place of a pacemaker. It frees some of our patients from the anxiety of having to choose.”

Clair encourages Vanderbilt Heart patients to talk to their cardiologists about which pacing system is right for them.

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