The findings are important because wireless communication has grown and advanced quickly. Hospitals and clinics have installed wireless local area networks (WLAN), which enable users to establish a wireless network connection with computers or other data devices throughout a building or multiple buildings that have the necessary data infrastructure in place. The wireless capabilities allow physicians and other health care professionals immediate access to a variety of information when evaluating and treating patients. Patients also are carrying wireless devices and need to understand if there would be any adverse reactions to implantable cardiac devices.
David Hayes, M.D., a Mayo Clinic physician and lead researcher in the study, says researchers did not expect to find interference based on their past experiences with other devices they have tested.
"When new devices are used near a patient with a life-sustaining implantable device, there is a potential of electromagnetic interference, and assessment of potential interactions is critical," says Dr. Hayes. "Despite the increasing sophistication of sensing circuitry in contemporary pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, these devices are still susceptible to electromagnetic interference and physicians need good data telling them which ones are or aren't. And as technology advances, we'll need continual testing to stay up to date."
In the Mayo Clinic study, testing was conducted between March 6 and July 30, 2003, using devices outside of the body. The cardiac devices were exposed to an HP Compaq