In the past decade, the use of MRI scanners has skyrocketed. Because the machines are able to provide relatively detailed images of soft tissues, they are extremely valuable in diagnosing cancers, heart problems and even back pain. These machines use a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to produce pictures of internal body structures.
But MRIs have been off limits to patients with implanted heart pacemakers. That’s because the MRI’s magnetic field could wreak havoc on a pacemaker’s electronic circuitry. Or worse, some of the pacemaker’s metal components could heat up and literally cook parts of the heart.