Handheld metal detectors an unlikely threat to pacemakers

In a study of nearly 400 patients with implants at two hospitals in Germany and France, researchers could not detect any malfunction of their medical devices during or after exposure to two different, commonly used metal detectors.

The researchers maximised the likelihood of electrical interference from the metal detectors by exposing patients to the magnetic field for around 30 seconds, far longer than the duration of a security screen.

However, they acknowledged that their findings required confirmation with other devices and in a ‘real world’ airport setting.

Ann Intern Med 2011; 155:587-92