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Health Agencies Update
November 18, 1998

Security Hazard

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JAMA. 1998;280(19):1649. doi:10.1001/jama.280.19.1649

The electromagnetic field generated by metal detectors and antitheft systems in airports and stores occasionally may cause problems with pacemakers and other implanted medical devices, says a recent warning from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA notified cardiologists, cardiovascular surgeons, neurologists, neurosurgeons, and emergency medicine physicians that the agency had received 44 adverse event reports during the past decade describing instances when such security systems apparently interfered with the normal function of pacemakers, implantable cardioverter/defibrillators (ICDs), and spinal cord stimulators. Similar reports also have been described in the medical literature.

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