MRI of the brain is safe in patients implanted with the vagus nerve stimulator

Selim R. Benbadis, John Nyhenhuis, William O. Tatum IV, F. Reed Murtagh, Maria Gieron, Fernando L. Vale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Metallic devices generally represent a contra-indication for MRI scanning. Based on laboratory testing, the neuro cybernetic prosthesis (NCP) is labelled MRI compatible when used with a send and receive head coil. However, there are no published clinical data to support the safety of brain MRI in patients with the NCP. Our objective was to report clinical experience with such a population. We questioned 40 centres that had implanted the NCP system as of 10/1/99. If MRI had been performed on any vagus nerve stimulator patients, we collected information on these patients, the MRI technique used, any events noted during the scan, including both subjective reports (by the patient), and observable (objective) changes noted by the staff. Twelve centres (30%) responded. Over a time period of 3 years, there were a total of 27 MRI scans performed in 25 patients. All scanners were 1.5 T. A head coil was used in 26 scans, and a body coil in one. The indications for the scans were diverse. Seven were related to the epilepsy, including aetiology or pre-surgical evaluation. Others were unrelated, including brain tumours, cerebral haematoma, vasculitis, headaches, and head trauma. Three scans were performed with the stimulator on, while 24 were performed with the stimulator off. One patient had a mild objective voice change for several minutes. No other objective changes were noted in any of the patients. One 11-year old reported chest pain while experiencing severe claustrophobia. Twenty-five patients denied any discomfort around the lead or the generator. We conclude that this clinical series supports the safety of routine brain MRI using a send and receive head coil in patients implanted with the NCP System.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-515
Number of pages4
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • MRI
  • Vagus nerve stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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