The safety of electrical stimulation in patients with pacemakers and implantable cardioverter defibrillators: A systematic review
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Authors: Badger, J., Taylor, P. and Swain, I.
Journal: J Rehabil Assist Technol Eng
Introduction: A number of patients are excluded from electrical stimulation treatment because there is concern that electrical stimulation could cause electromagnetic interference with pacemakers and implanted cardioverter defibrillators. The decision to use electrical stimulation in these patients needs to be supported by an assessment of benefit and harm. Methods: We conducted a systematic review of the risk of electromagnetic interference between electrical stimulation and pacemakers or implanted cardioverter defibrillators. We included the electronic databases MEDLINE and EMBASE in the time period between 1966 and 26 August 2016. Results: 18 papers fulfilled the inclusion criteria (eight safety studies and ten case studies). Although we were unable to accurately estimate the risk of electromagnetic interference, the studies revealed that patients having electrical stimulation of the lower limb are less susceptible to electromagnetic interference. Conclusions: The results suggest that electrical stimulation could be used safely to help drop foot in patients with pacemakers or implanted cardioverter defibrillators. However, in order to obtain an accurate estimate of the risk of electromagnetic interference, a large, long-term, and intervention-specific safety study is required. Until such a study is undertaken, electrical stimulation should be used with caution in patients with pacemakers and implanted cardioverter defibrillators.