I can’t have an MRI because of my pacemaker. In fact, when I was Duke Children’s Hospital for the Saving Little Hearts CHD Symposium, one of the doctors reminded me to avoid MRIs and implied that it might not be safe for me to even be on the same floor as the MRI scanner!
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and the magnets are large – often weighing in at over one ton. The rule is simple: No metal is allowed in the MRI room. When the rule is broken, bad things happen:
Patient A was wheeled directly into the MRI room… and the metal wheelchair-gurney was immediately forcibly attracted by the magnet against the outer core of the magnet housing, crushing the left lower extremity of Patient A and trapping the patient between the magnet and the wheelchair-gurney.
I have no idea what would happen if I were to enter an MRI suite – would I be pinned to the side of the MRI until someone deactivated the magnet, or would it literally be ripped out of my body? I don’t know, and I don’t want to find out! Either way, they use a small magnet to communicate with your pacemaker, so at the very least you will have to have it examined and reset. If that is all that happens, consider yourself lucky – it almost certainly will itself be magnetized and you’ll have to get it replaced.
So when they ask about metal, don’t forget to mention your pacemaker… and your sternum wires!