Evaluation of Electromagnetic Incompatibility Concerns for Deep Brain Stimulators

Kelly Dustin


J Neurosci Nurs. 2008;40(5):299-303. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Deep brain stimulators (DBS) may be affected by electromagnetic interference (EMI). Little research has been conducted regarding this phenomenon, although supportive background information and a literature review offer implications of EMI for persons who have this device. The warning information on Medtronic's Web site that is specific to the DBS device indicates that theft detectors and security screening devices may cause the stimulation to turn on or off and may cause some patients to experience a momentary increase in perceived stimulation. This information supports the rationale for practitioners to recommend that patients with DBS turn off their device when anticipating exposure to EMI. EMI with DBS does not appear to present an immediate safety issue even though it may cause device malfunction and a resulting temporary interruption in therapeutic benefit for persons who have the device. However, the absence of sound research on the effects of EMI on DBS does not permit the exclusion of EMI as a potential health concern. Meanwhile, healthcare professionals who care for patients with DBS should routinely educate them about potential interactions and appropriate accommodations.


Is there a safety issue with deep brain stimulators (DBS) and electromagnetic surveillance systems? Surgical placement of DBS has become more widely available as a therapy for a variety of movement disorders. Advanced security systems and other technologies that may affect the function of implanted neurostimulators present a growing concern. Specifically, individuals with movement disorders who have DBS may encounter alterations in device effects through everyday exposure to electromagnetic impulses. This article explores the implications of electromagnetic interference (EMI) for patients with DBS through supportive background information and a literature review.


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