EMF Health-effects Research

Electromagnetic interference of GSM mobile phones with the implantable deep brain stimulator, ITREL-III

Kainz W, Alesch F, Chan DD

Biomed Eng Online 2(1):11, 2003

BACKGROUND: The purpose was to investigate mobile phone interference with implantable deep brain stimulators by means of 10 different 900 Mega Hertz (MHz) and 10 different 1800 MHz GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) mobile phones.

METHODS: All tests were performed in vitro using a phantom especially developed for testing with deep brain stimulators. The phantom was filled with liquid phantom materials simulating brain and muscle tissue. All examinations were carried out inside an anechoic chamber on two implants of the same type of deep brain stimulator: ITREL-III from Medtronic Inc., USA.

RESULTS: Despite a maximum transmitted peak power of mobile phones of 1 Watt (W) at 1800 MHz and 2 W at 900 MHz respectively, no influence on the ITREL-III was found. Neither the shape of the pulse form changed nor did single pulses fail. Tests with increased transmitted power using CW signals and broadband dipoles have shown that inhibition of the ITREL-III occurs at frequency dependent power levels which are below the emissions of GSM mobile phones. The ITREL-III is essentially more sensitive at 1800 MHz than at 900 MHz. Particularly the frequency range around 1500 MHz shows a very low interference threshold.

CONCLUSION: These investigations do not indicate a direct risk for ITREL-III patients using the tested GSM phones. Based on the interference levels found with CW signals, which are below the mobile phone emissions, we recommend similar precautions as for patients with cardiac pacemakers: 1. The phone should be used at the ear at the opposite side of the implant and 2. The patient should avoid carrying the phone close to the implant

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