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Original Research |

Safety of Screening Procedures With Hand-Held Metal Detectors Among Patients With Implanted Cardiac Rhythm Devices: A Cross-sectional Analysis

Clemens Jilek, MD; Stylianos Tzeis, MD, PhD; Hrvoje Vrazic, MD, PhD; Verena Semmler, MD; Georgios Andrikopoulos, MD, PhD; Tilko Reents, MD; Stephanie Fichtner, MD; Sonia Ammar, MD; Ioannis Rassias, MD; Georgios Theodorakis, MD, PhD; Stefan Weber, MD, PhD; Gabriele Hessling, MD, PhD; Isabel Deisenhofer, MD, PhD; and Christof Kolb, MD, PhD
[+] Article and Author Information

From Deutsches Herzzentrum und 1. Medizinische Klinik des Klinikum rechts der Isar, Faculty of Medicine, Technische Universität München, München, Germany; Henry Dunant Hospital, Athens, Greece; University Hospital Dubrava, Zagreb, Croatia; and Klinik und Poliklinik für Innere Medizin II, Universität Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany.


Grant Support: Dr. Vrazic was supported by an educational fellowship of the European Heart Rhythm Association.

Potential Conflicts of Interest: Disclosures can be viewed at www.acponline.org/authors/icmje/ConflictOfInterestForms.do?msNum=M11-1345.

Reproducible Research Statement:Study protocol, statistical code, and data set: Not available.

Requests for Single Reprints: Clemens Jilek, MD, Deutsches Herzzentrum München, Elektrophysiologie, Lazarettstrasse 36, 80636 München, Germany; e-mail, research@jilek.de.

Current Author Addresses: Drs. Jilek, Semmler, Reents, Fichtner, Ammar, Hessling, Deisenhofer, and Kolb: Deutsches Herzzentrum München, Elektrophysiologie, Lazarettstrasse 36, 80636 München, Germany.

Drs. Tzeis, Andrikopoulos, Rassias, and Theodorakis: Cardiology Department, Henry Dunant Hospital, 107 Mesogion Avenue, 11526 Athens, Greece.

Dr. Vrazic: Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Dubrava, Av. G. Suska 6, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia.

Dr. Weber: Klinik und Poliklinik für Innere Medizin II, Universität Regensburg, Franz-Josef-Strauss-Allee 11, 93042 Regensburg, Germany.

Author Contributions: Conception and design: C. Jilek, S. Tzeis, G. Andrikopoulos, S. Weber, C. Kolb.

Analysis and interpretation of the data: C. Jilek, S. Tzeis, H. Vrazic, V. Semmler, G. Andrikopoulos, S. Fichtner, S. Ammar, S. Weber, C. Kolb.

Drafting of the article: C. Jilek, S. Tzeis, H. Vrazic, G. Andrikopoulos, G. Hessling, C. Kolb.

Critical revision for important intellectual content: C. Jilek, G. Andrikopoulos, G. Theodorakis, G. Hessling, I. Deisenhofer, C. Kolb.

Final approval of the article: C. Jilek, G. Theodorakis, S. Weber, G. Hessling, C. Kolb.

Provision of study materials or patients: C. Jilek, S. Tzeis, I. Rassias, I. Deisenhofer.

Statistical expertise: C. Jilek.

Administrative, technical, or logistic support: C. Jilek, G. Theodorakis, S. Weber, I. Deisenhofer, C. Kolb.

Collection and assembly of data: C. Jilek, S. Tzeis, H. Vrazic, V. Semmler, G. Andrikopoulos, T. Reents, S. Fichtner, S. Ammar, I. Rassias, C. Kolb.


Ann Intern Med. 2011;155(9):587-592. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-155-9-201111010-00005
Text Size: A A A

Background: Case reports suggest that the hand-held metal detectors used for security screening generate electromagnetic fields that may interfere with pacemaker and implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) function.

Objective: To assess changes in function of pacemakers and ICDs after exposure to hand-held metal detectors.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Two medical centers in Europe.

Patients: 388 patients (209 with pacemakers and 179 with ICDs) presenting for routine follow-up of device function between September 2009 and December 2010.

Measurements: Abnormalities on electrocardiography suggestive of rhythm device malfunction (pacing inhibition, loss of capture, inappropriate mode switch, ventricular oversensing, and spontaneous reprogramming) after 30 seconds of exposure to 2 widely used hand-held metal detectors with a maximal electromagnetic flux density of 6.3 µT.

Results: No change in device function, including pacing or sensing abnormalities or device reprogramming, was observed in any patient.

Limitations: The study included a convenience sample of patients, and the number of different device models tested was small. Testing was conducted in 2 clinic settings.

Conclusion: Hand-held metal detectors did not affect the function of pacemakers or ICDs in this sample. The use of hand-held metal detectors for security screening is probably safe for patients with pacemakers and ICDs, but these findings require confirmation.

Primary Funding Source: None.

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Summary for Patients

Are Hand-Held Metal Detectors Used in Airports Safe for People With Pacemakers and Defibrillators?

The full report is titled “Safety of Screening Procedures With Hand-Held Metal Detectors Among Patients With Implanted Cardiac Rhythm Devices. A Cross-sectional Analysis.” It is in the 1 November 2011 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 155, pages 587-592). The authors are C. Jilek, S. Tzeis, H. Vrazic, V. Semmler, G. Andrikopoulos, T. Reents, S. Fichtner, S. Ammar, I. Rassias, G. Theodorakis, S. Weber, G. Hessling, I. Deisenhofer, and C. Kolb.

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