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Getting an MRI Scan

Chronic Pain

Someday, you may need a magnetic resonance image (MRI) to diagnose an illness. When you have an implanted electronic device, you have to be careful about MRI scans. The good news is that MRI scans are possible with Medtronic neurostimulation systems for chronic pain,* with proper safeguards. In fact, only Medtronic offers neurostimulation systems that are FDA-approved for MRI scans anywhere in the body.**

Depending on the type of Medtronic neurostimulation system you have, you may be eligible for an MRI of any part of your body or a head‐only MRI scan. If you have a Medtronic SureScan® MRI System, your pain specialist can easily determine whether or not you can safely undergo the type of MRI scan prescribed. If you do not have a SureScan MRI System, you may be eligible for a head-only MRI scan.

Preparing for an MRI Scan

If your doctor has prescribed an MRI, work with your pain specialist. Instructions for preparing for an MRI scan are provided in the guidebook, Before Your MRI. You can also find information on mrisurescan.com.

The MRI Challenge

People with implanted electronic devices have to be careful about MRI scans for this reason: MRI machines produce electromagnetic fields that can interact with and negatively affect the implanted device. If an implanted neurostimulation system is not designed specifically to be compatible with MRIs, interactions can occur. These interactions include:

  • Heat – The MRI can cause a neurostimulation lead (thin wire) to overheat, which can damage surrounding tissue or the battery connected to the lead
  • Magnetic pull – If an implanted device is made with significant magnetic materials, the materials can be attracted to the MRI’s magnetic field. This causes them to move, which may cause discomfort
  • Device malfunction – The MRI’s magnetic field may send voltage to the neurostimulation lead, triggering unintended stimulation or stopping of the stimulation
  • Unintended functionality – The MRI’s magnetic field may cause the neurostimulation system to turn off or on, or affect or disable other functions
  • Distorted MRI image – The neurostimulation system can interfere with the imaging, causing distortions or completely blocking the image

Overcoming the Challenge

Medtronic conducted extensive testing to ensure patient safety during MRI scans. When following specific guidelines from Medtronic, MRI technologists can safely perform an MRI scan on people with an implanted Medtronic neurostimulation system.

Safety Resources for Your Healthcare Team

If you encounter a doctor or MRI technologist who seems unclear about MRI safety related to your Medtronic neurostimulation system, show him or her your Medtronic Patient ID Card. Listed on your card is the model number of your neurostimulator and the website where your doctor or MRI technologist can access guidelines for safely conducting an MRI with your Medtronic neurostimulation system.

* Excludes Itrel® 3.

MR-Conditional Icon **Under specific conditions; requires SureScan® MRI implantable neurostimulator and SureScan MRI leads.


Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.