UC Davis patient receives regions first MRI-safe pacemaker
SACRAMENTO — UC Davis Medical Center cardiologists have given the first patient in inland Northern California a new type of pacemaker that can function during magnetic resonance imaging, or an MRI.
The new device has software that can be programmed to an “MRI safe” mode and the components have been designed to resist heat and the magnetic interference experienced within an MRI scanner. These changes made it a perfect option for Russ Hubbard, who has both heart disease and stroke symptoms.
“We were concerned about Mr. Hubbard’s decreased heart rate and the possibility that he may have had a brain stem stroke,” said Uma Srivatsa, an associate professor of cardiology and specialist in electrophysiology approaches to cardiac care. “This new technology gave us the opportunity to address his reduced heart function without compromising his access to the kind of detailed imaging that is optimal for monitoring a potential brain event.”
MRIs are ideal for visualizing tissue and other soft body structures. However getting those images requires powerful magnetic fields that can heat up the wires that connect the pacemaker to the heart, which can cause extra electrical stimulation to the heart and may damage the pacemaker.
“The pacemaker revolutionized cardiac care and has helped literally millions of people live longer, more comfortable lives by regulating their heart rates,” said Srivatsa. “But we know a considerable number of those patients may need MRIs for the diagnosis of other medical conditions. This new option allows patients to benefit from both technologies.”
Together with Reginald Low, UC Davis chief of cardiology, Srivatsa determined that Hubbard was an ideal candidate for the new device, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration this year. On April 14 he became the first in the region to receive the MRI-safe pacemaker.
A retired U.S. Air Force colonel and former Radio Shack owner from Cameron Park, Hubbard has always been quick to use new technology.
“I’m fascinated by the latest and greatest gadgets, and it’s very nice to benefit personally from this one,” he said.
“UC Davis is committed to meeting the needs of cardiac patients, especially when it comes to providing the most advanced therapies that will benefit the patient,” said Low.
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