updated 2/8/2011 3:31:47 PM ET 2011-02-08T20:31:47

Medtronic Inc., the world's largest medical device company, said Tuesday it has received U.S. approval for the first pacemaker designed to be safely used with MRI scanners.

Patients with the heart-pacing implants are strongly discouraged from having MRI scans because the radio waves could interfere with the functioning of their device. MRI scans are used to diagnose cancers, heart conditions and brain problems.

  1. Don't miss these Health stories
    1. Splash News
      More women opting for preventive mastectomy - but should they be?

      Rates of women who are opting for preventive mastectomies, such as Angeline Jolie, have increased by an estimated 50 percent in recent years, experts say. But many doctors are puzzled because the operation doesn't carry a 100 percent guarantee, it's major surgery -- and women have other options, from a once-a-day pill to careful monitoring.

    2. Larry Page's damaged vocal cords: Treatment comes with trade-offs
    3. Report questioning salt guidelines riles heart experts
    4. CDC: 2012 was deadliest year for West Nile in US
    5. What stresses moms most? Themselves, survey says

Medtronic says about 200,000 pacemaker patients in the U.S. must opt out of the scans each year.

The company's REVO Surescan is the first pacemaker that is FDA-approved for use while undergoing the high-powered scans.

Medtronic said it would begin shipping the devices immediately.

Pacemakers use low-voltage electrical pulses to treat dangerously slow heart rhythms.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments