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Electromagnetic Immunity of Implantable Pacemakers Exposed to Wi-Fi Devices

Mattei, Eugenio; Censi, Federica; Triventi, Michele; Calcagnini, Giovanni*

doi: 10.1097/HP.0000000000000113
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Abstract: The purpose of this study is to evaluate the potential for electromagnetic interference (EMI) and to assess the immunity level of implantable pacemakers (PM) when exposed to the radiofrequency (RF) field generated by Wi-Fi devices. Ten PM from five manufacturers, representative of what today is implanted in patients, have been tested in vitro and exposed to the signal generated by a Wi-Fi transmitter. An exposure setup that reproduces the actual IEEE 802.11b/g protocol has been designed and used during the tests. The system is able to amplify the Wi-Fi signal and transmits at power levels higher than those allowed by current international regulation. Such approach allows one to obtain, in case of no EMI, a safety margin for PM exposed to Wi-Fi signals, which otherwise cannot be derived if using commercial Wi-Fi equipment. The results of this study mitigate concerns about using Wi-Fi devices close to PM: none of the PM tested exhibit any degradation of their performance, even when exposed to RF field levels five times higher than those allowed by current international regulation (20 W EIRP). In conclusion, Wi-Fi devices do not pose risks of EMI to implantable PM. The immunity level of modern PM is much higher than the transmitting power of RF devices operating at 2.4 GHz.

*Department of Technology and Health, Italian National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

For correspondence contact: Eugenio Mattei, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00161, Rome, Italy, or email at eugenio.mattei@iss.it.

(Manuscript accepted 29 January 2014)

© 2014 by the Health Physics Society