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St. Mary Medical Center is Among First in Nation and Among First in Delaware Valley Region to Implant MRI-Conditional Pacemaker
Breakthrough Device Approved for Widely Used Imaging Scans

LANGHORNE, Pa., February 16, 2011 – St. Mary Medical Center is among the first in the nation to implant the newly FDA-approved pacing system considered safe for patients undergoing an MRI scan. Electophysiologist Dr. Michael Rozengarten successfully implanted the SureScan™ Pacing System into the chest of an 80-year-old patient on Thursday, February 16. The patient has a history of atrial fibrillation and a slow heartbeat and needs a pacemaker to control the pace and regularity of his heart rate.

Previously patients with pacemakers were cautioned to avoid getting Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The SureScan™ Pacing System is a breakthrough in technology that contains changes in internal circuitry and significantly reduced magnetic components to make MRI a safe imaging technique for patients with a pacing system.

Important to consider is that the demographic group most likely to need a pacemaker, those over age 65 and commonly diagnosed with more than one health condition (co-morbidity), also is the same demographic group most likely to need a diagnostic MRI.

The MRI-conditional pacing system solves a tricky dilemma for patients with pacemakers who potentially benefit the most from this widely used medical-imaging exam. MRI-Conditional pacemakers are approved for MRI scans on certain body parts and in certain patients.

“This is a significant advancement for a technology that benefits our patients,” said Dr. Scott Burke, Medical Director of Electrophysiology Lab at St. Mary Medical Center. “We can safely treat our patients for irregular heartbeats without concern that we are limiting the option for an important diagnostic tool that for many is part of their continuing quality of care.”

Pacing systems are surgically implanted devices commonly used to regulate heart rhythms and to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. A small electronic pacemaker device is implanted in the chest during a minor surgical procedure and works to stimulate the heart muscle with precisely timed electrical impulses that keep the heart beating at a well-controlled rate. Frequently, pacemakers are necessary following a heart attack or cardiac surgery. Without treatment, a slow or irregular heart rate can lead to weakness, dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath and even death. Patients with pacemakers are cautioned to avoid strong electrical or magnetic fields that have the potential to cause discomfort or device malfunction.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is an advanced imaging technique for three-dimensional visualization of body areas, including the brain, spine, joints, pelvis, abdomen and chest. As a sophisticated diagnostic tool, it is especially useful for soft tissue injuries, neurologic disorders, and in diagnosing cancer or stroke. But the powerful fields produced during MRI have the potential to cause harmful effects on patients with implantable cardiac devices, including pacemakers. Patients with pacemakers typically are advised not to get MRI scans because of the risk that the equipment’s strong magnetic field and radio signals can disrupt the pacemakers’s setting or cause wires to overheat, potentially triggering life-threatening irregular heart rhythms.

“St. Mary Medical Center is committed to providing our patients with the most advanced, quality care,” says Thomas Nicosia, DL, FACHE, Cardiovascular Service Line Administrator. “The reputation of our highly skilled physicians and staff, and our attention to patient safety and patient satisfaction, all contribute to our ability to bring this leading-edge technology to our community. I thank our entire cardiovascular team for their dedication to the mission and values of St. Mary Medical Center.”