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Common Sources of Electrical Interference

Keystone-52The world is becoming more electronically-dependent on a daily basis, posing increasing potential risks for patients with implantable electrical devices such as pacemakers and defibrillators. Patients must be cognizant of their surroundings at all times. The response of a pacemaker or defibrillator or other implantable electrical device to interference from other devices depends on a number of variables including, the polarity of the device, the amount of shielding on the device, the strength and location of the signal and the duration of the exposure to the interference.

Below is a brief summary of devices that can interfere with implantable electrical devices. This list is not all encompassing. Patients are encouraged to consult with their doctor to understand which devices to avoid and how to avoid them.


  • Always inform airport security that you have an ICD prior to going through security. While airport scanners pose a low risk, ICDs can trigger the detector’s alarm. More important than the walk thru detector is the hand-held wand. Always remind airport personnel of your ICD and that the wand should not be placed over it for more than a second.


  • Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) machines should be avoided. MRIs and other large magnetic field generating equipment may interrupt the programing and function of an ICD or cause ICD leads to heat up.
  • The use of heat treatment to muscles during physical therapy, also known as diathermy, should be avoided.
  • Lithotripsy
  • Ultrasound machines
  • Diathermy equipment
  • Therapeutic radiotherapy
  • Electrocautery


  • Radio and television transmitters
  • Arc welders
  • Jackhammers
  • High-tension wires
  • Radar installations and machinery
  • Smelting furnaces
  • TV transmitters
  • High voltage machinery
  • Electromagnets such as those used at salvage yards
  • Large loudspeakers
  • Large generators


  • Keep cell phones at least six inches from the ICD
  • Some personal listening devices contain magnetic substances that
  • Metal detectors
  • Gasoline-powered lawn mowers and other yard equipment
  • Ab Stimulator
  • Ham radios
  • Body fat measuring scales
  • Electric razors
  • Magnetic mattresses or chairs
  • High voltage power lines
  • Cell phones
  • Bug zappers

Keystone Compliance has the equipment and knowledge to complete a site survey analysis to determine potential sources of interference for pacemakers, defibrillators and other implantable electrical devices. Our experts take readings from equipment to determine if emissions might adversely affect the patient. Contact us today to schedule a site visit so that we can provide your doctor with information to help determine which devices and areas to avoid.