Retained pacing wires

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mom2angel

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Who else has retained pacing wires? I have some from 1982. I was told they left them in there in case I needed a pacemaker soon after. In that case, they could just make a small incision, and implant it. Rather than to cut me all the way open again. I know they are much simpler now. My wires are 40 years old, and I’ve never given them much thought, until 7 years ago when I wanted an MRI on my knee for a torn meniscus. The questionnaire that used to ask yes or no for pacemaker/defibrillator then said pacemaker/defibrillator/pacing wires. So, I checked yes and circled pacing wires. I was then told no to the MRI and explained why. They said a magnetic current can go through open ended pacing wires and burn your heart. I’ve had at least 7 MRIs in the past with no issues, but before that question changed on the form.
This month, I finally have a Dr that is going to do an MRI so we can move forward with fixing my knee. He is going to have a nurse monitoring my heart rhythm and oxygen and give me a call light. I have to tell them if anything feels like it’s heating up in my chest. Sounds like I’m getting the Royal Treatment MRI..haha
I was just curious how many of you have retained pacing wires and what the reasoning was. I hear they leave them in if they are difficult to remove.
Does anyone know what they are made of? I’m not worried about them, just curious as to others experience. I’m sure mine are so embedded after 40 years that they will not pose a problem.
 

Sim

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Jul 31, 2022
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Des Moines, WA
Hi, I have pacing wires since I was 10 years old in 1991 when I got my 1st aortic valve replacement. I had my second aortic valve and aorta replaced in 2015 and need to get regular CT to check on how my aorta repair looks like. Unfortunately, I cannot have MRI because of the pacing wires.
 

Protimenow

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I'm guessing that the materials used for pacing wires may have evolved over the years. It's possible that older pacing wires may be an issue with the MRI. MRI operators always err on the side of caution.

That said, last year I had a cardiac MRI at UCLA. They reset the pacemaker to levels appropriate for MRIs, and there were no problems.

I don't know the specifics of your pacing wires. Perhaps the manufacturer of the wires would have much more to say about your specific wires and MRI.
 

Sim

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Des Moines, WA
I'm guessing that the materials used for pacing wires may have evolved over the years. It's possible that older pacing wires may be an issue with the MRI. MRI operators always err on the side of caution.

That said, last year I had a cardiac MRI at UCLA. They reset the pacemaker to levels appropriate for MRIs, and there were no problems.

I don't know the specifics of your pacing wires. Perhaps the manufacturer of the wires would have much more to say about your specific wires and MRI.
I do not have a pacemaker, I just have the wires from 21 years ago.
 

Protimenow

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Yes. I got that.

The 21 year old wires may cause an issue that newer pacing wires don't cause.

I realize that you don't have a pacemaker - just the wires.

From what I've heard, it's better just to leave them in - scar tissue around them makes it difficult to remove them.
 

mom2angel

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Nebraska
Thanks Sim and Protime now. It’s interesting to hear who else has them and how long they’ve had them. I’m excited to finally get this MRI to maybe be able to move forward with fixing this knee. I do in home health, and it gets a workout. Haha My 7 previous MRIs never caused a problem, but they were never aware I had wires because that question wasn’t on the forms. Thankfully, all was well with the MRIs. Interesting to learn, all these years later, that I wasn’t technically supposed to have them. :p
 

MdaPA

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Jul 8, 2020
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Here is another thread that discusses this:

If you have retained temporary epicardial (not intracardiac) pacing leads/wires, you should be able to get an MRI (see below resource). Confirm with your Dr.

Note you may have to go to a larger hospital (e.g. that performs OHS) where the Imaging folks have more dealings with this whereas a smaller facility/hospital may turn you away. After contacting a few imaging facilities and hospitals, my wife was able to find a local hospital that would do an MRI on her while having retained temporary epicardial pacing leads/wires (and 2 St Jude mechanical valves). She was able to get an MRI and had no issue.

Temporary Epicardial Pacing Leads
Although there is a theoretical risk that MRI examinations in patients with retained temporary epicardial leads (which consist of electrically conductive materials) could lead to cardiac excitation or thermal injury, such retained leads which are relatively short in length and do not form large conducting loops have not been found to pose a substantial hazard to patients during MRI procedures.

MRIsafety.com - Safety Information Article

Made it to the other side
 

erricojj

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Jun 12, 2022
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CT and FL
I had pacing wires for the temporary pacemaker they installed during my SAVR two weeks ago. When they removed the wires, they told me that one was "stuck" and they didn't want to pull on it, so it's still in me. I'm going to ask at my follow-up visit next week as to what the MRI risk is.

Maybe I'll have "No MRI" tattooed on my chest.
 

Lynn

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British Columbia
My experience is temporary pacing wires are not the same as permanent pacing wires (Having had both). I required pacing with a after surgery and still do. Prior to receiving a permanent pacemaker one week after surgery, I was paced with an external pacer and with wires that do not go into the chambers of the heart In the same way as permanent wires. Once my permanent pacemaker was implanted surgically, the temporary pacer wires were removed by floor nurses. Permanent wires go through the vein into the heart and must be surgically removed by laser. If I remember correctly the temporary wires are attached to the heart lining, though I can’t recall the specifics.

The point of this is that these temporary wires are for emergency pacing only and are not a long term solution, at least not in this day and age. I was told patients can not go home until temporary wires were removed. If these temporary wires have been left in place for many years, I wonder if they become more difficult to remove though? Others may be able to comment on this.
 

mom2angel

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Sep 25, 2011
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186
Location
Nebraska
If you can zoom in on these pics, you can read a little about my wires, the wires I'm assuming I still have. This is a medical journal I was in. Sorry for the pics being sideways.
To quote part of the article: Following their placement, the epicardial electrodes are exteriorized and the ends are encased in a non-conductive gauze dressing so that they can be used later for recording and pacing. It is important to insure that the electrodes are electrically isolated so there is no possibility for contact with equipment which may potentially deliver electrical current directly to the myocardium.
I am the girl in the illustration (figure 4:9) So, I have exactly what they were talking about. After rereading the article, I think I will take this book with me to my MRI appointment next Monday, and let them read what I just quoted. At least they would have a better understanding of what type of wires I have.
 

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