What is magnet inhibition in pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs)?

Updated: Oct 11, 2019
  • Author: Daniel M Beyerbach, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Jeffrey N Rottman, MD  more...
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Features of magnet inhibition are as follows:

  • In most devices, placing a magnet over a permanent pacemaker temporarily "reprograms" the pacer into an asynchronous pacing mode; it does not turn the pacemaker off

  • If the device company parameters are known, application of a magnet can determine whether the pacer's battery needs to be replaced

  • Although many different branded pacemaker/ ICD magnets are available, in general, any pacemaker/ICD magnet can be used to inhibit the device

  • Magnet use inhibits further ICD discharge; it does not, however, inhibit pacing

  • In some devices, "magnet function" can be disabled

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