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The safety of having magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with a stent in place depends on the type of stent involved and when the stent was inserted. All coronary artery stents commonly used in 2011, including drug-eluting and bare metal stents, appear to be compatible with an MRI. A patient must alert his physician to the presence of stents, however, so the physician can do his research and determine if the particular stent involved is compatible with an MRI.
Having an MRI with a stent in place is known to be safe for coronary artery stents on the market as of 2011 when the MRI has a magnetic field of 3 teslas. Several studies have shown that an MRI can be performed safely within a day of stent implantation, though many radiologists advise waiting several weeks after having a stent placed before having an MRI. There is no danger to stents from metal detectors.
The question of whether having an MRI with a stent in place stems from a fear that the magnetic field generated by the MRI will displace the stent. Patients with implanted metallic devices such as pacemakers and metal pins cannot safely have an MRI. Coronary artery stents on the market between 1998 and 2011 are made from materials that do not displace as a result of an MRI. A group of researchers in Texas in 1998 reviewed all major coronary stents then available on the world market and found all of them safe in regard to an MRI.
People who had a coronary stent placed after 1998 may have a drug-eluting stent. These stents are similar to bare metal stents but are coated with drugs that are released over time. This helps prevent the blood vessel from re-closing. These stents also are generally safe during an MRI.
Many people with coronary artery stents also have other implanted devices that include coils, filters and wires. While having an MRI with a stent is safe, it may not be safe to have a MRI with those devices. The surgeon who performed the surgery should have more information about what devices were implanted and whether an MRI is safe with those devices in place.
Having a non-emergency MRI with a stent may be delayed while the MRI facility consults with the patient's physicians to confirm the safety of having an MRI with a stent in place. To avoid such a delay in emergency situations, a patient is advised to keep a card with him explaining what devices he has implanted. The card should include the phone number of both the surgeon who performed the implant and the patient's regular physician.
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