Deep brain stimulators (DBS) may be affected by electromagnetic interference (EMI). Little research has been conducted regarding this phenomenon, although supportive background information and a literature review offer implications of EMI for persons who have this device. The warning information on Medtronic's Web site that is specific to the DBS device indicates that theft detectors and security screening devices may cause the stimulation to turn on or off and may cause some patients to experience a momentary increase in perceived stimulation. This information supports the rationale for practitioners to recommend that patients with DBS turn off their device when anticipating exposure to EMI. EMI with DBS does not appear to present an immediate safety issue even though it may cause device malfunction and a resulting temporary interruption in therapeutic benefit for persons who have the device. However, the absence of sound research on the effects of EMI on DBS does not permit the exclusion of EMI as a potential health concern. Meanwhile, healthcare professionals who care for patients with DBS should routinely educate them about potential interactions and appropriate accommodations.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Kelly Dustin, MS BSN RN CCRC, at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is a human subject protection scientist for AMDEX Corporation, in support of the Office of Research Protections (ORP), Fort Detrick, MD.