Third-Generation Mobile Phones (UMTS) do not Interfere with Permanent Implanted Pacemakers

Mohamed M. Ismail, M.D.; Akmal M. A. Badreldin, M.D.; Matthias Heldwein, M.D.; Khosro Hekmat, M.D., Ph.D.

Disclosures

Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 2010;33(7):860-864. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

Abstract

Aims: Third-generation mobile phones, UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunication System), were recently introduced in Europe. The safety of these devices with regard to their interference with implanted pacemakers is as yet unknown and is the point of interest in this study.
Methods and Results: The study comprised 100 patients with permanent pacemaker implantation between November 2004 and June 2005. Two UMTS cellular phones (T-Mobile, Vodafone) were tested in the standby, dialing, and operating mode with 23 single-chamber and 77 dual-chamber pacemakers. Continuous surface electrocardiograms (ECGs), intracardiac electrograms, and marker channels were recorded when calls were made by a stationary phone to cellular phone. All pacemakers were tested under a "worst-case scenario," which includes a programming of the pacemaker to unipolar sensing and pacing modes and inducing of a maximum sensitivity setting during continuous pacing of the patient. Patients had pacemaker implantation between June 1990 and April 2005. The mean age was 68.4 ± 15.1 years. Regardless of atrial and ventricular sensitivity settings, both UMTS mobile phones (Nokia 6650 and Motorola A835) did not show any interference with all tested pacemakers. In addition, both cellular phones did not interfere with the marker channels and the intracardiac ECGs of the pacemakers.
Conclusion: Third-generation mobile phones are safe for patients with permanent pacemakers. This is due to the high-frequency band for this system (1,800–2,200 MHz) and the low power output between 0.01 W and 0.25 W.

Introduction

Investigating the interactions between electromagnetic interference caused by cellular phones and PPM requires testing under a "worst-case scenario."[1] The electromagnetic fields were found to interfere with the permanent pacemaker (PPM) function with a rate up to 41%.[2–10] Third-generation mobile phones, Universal Mobile Telecommunication System (UMTS), were recently introduced in Europe. The safety of these devices with regard to their interference with PPM is as yet unknown. In order to be able to simulate the worst-case scenario, it was essential to program the PPM to unipolar sensing and pacing modes and the induction of a maximum sensitivity setting during continuous pacing of the patient.

The aim of this study was to test the interference of two UMTS digital cellular telephones with the different models of available PPMs.

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