EMF Health-effects Research

In-vivo testing of digital cellular telephones in patients with implantable cardioverter-defibrillators

Chiladakis JA, Davlouros P, Agelopoulos G, Manolis AS.

Eur Heart J 22(15):1337-1342, 2001

Aims To investigate the susceptibility of implantable cardioverter defibrillators to electromagnetic interference generated by digital cellular telephones, functioning in both international transmission technologies:the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) and the Digital Cellular System (DCS 1800).

Methods and Results In 36 patients with transvenous implantable cardioverter defibrillators from two manufacturers (Medtronic and Guidant/CPI), cellular telephones with different levels of minimal and maximal power output were tested in the transmitting and receiving mode.

Evaluation was performed in activated implantable defibrillators during spontaneous cardiac activity and continuous VVI or DDD pacing to assess possible electromagnetic interference. In two patients, appropriateness of ventricular fibrillation detection and therapy was judged during telephone testing.

There was no damage, reprogramming, inappropriate shock therapy or pacing inhibition during the tests. In seven pre-pectoral Medtronic implantable defibrillators, transient electromagnetic interference caused 19 erroneous sensing events, when the operating phone was held in close vicinity to the programmer head. These 'pseudo-oversensing' events, which did not result in logging of arrhythmia episodes in the device counter, were interpreted as an adverse interaction between the telephone and the programming device.

Conclusion Digital cellular telephones do not represent a risk to Medtronic and Guidant/CPI recipients of the specific implantable defibrillator models herein tested.

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