New pacemaker allows patients to have MRIs

A new pacemaker is the first FDA approved device allowing patients to have an MRI scan and it is now available in Southwest Louisiana. Dr. Kevin Young, a cardiologist at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, was the first to implant the Revo MRI SureScan pacemaker in a patient in the region. He said doctors have grappled for years with the problem of getting those with pacemakers the diagnostic scans they need.

"Some patients just simply need an MRI scan," said Dr. Young.

He said cancer patients, those who need neurological scans and those with an orthopedic problem like a torn ligament are prime candidates for an MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

"Many have had to actually forgo indicated and necessary MRIs because they had an implanted pacemaker," explained Dr. Young.

For Ivine Trahan, who had the device implanted in August, the pacemaker helps prevent blackouts.

"I could be looking at someone that's talking to me and all of a sudden I didn't see them. I didn't hear them," recalled Trahan.

She said her heart was out of sync. One side, she explained, was beating too fast and the other side too slow. Pacemakers can literally pace the heart and sense when the beat slows or quickens.

Trahan also suffers from a form of muscular dystrophy and this heart problem was just icing on the cake.

"It is what my mother had and what she probably died in her sleep from was heart problems," said Trahan.

"It can be truly life-saving because it simply takes us back where mother nature had us years ago," said Dr. Young.

If Trahan ever needs an MRI for doctors to look at her muscles, she will not have to worry about her pacemaker reacting with the strong magnetic  field. Other pacemakers can malfunction near an MRI, reprogram themselves and even heat up if they get too close.

Dr. Young also said the Revo MRI SureScan does not have any different side effects than other pacemakers and has a similar battery life.