PET Scans with a Pacemaker

Last Modified: December 4, 2005


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
My 88 yr. old mother is scheduled to have a PET scan this week but has a pacemaker. Can this test be performed on a patient with a pacemaker?


Peeyush Bhargava, MD, Chief Fellow in the Department of Nuclear Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

Patients with metallic implants, prostheses, pacemakers, or other devices can safely undergo a whole body PET scan . These devices are not a contraindication to performing the exam.

Patients should remember to inform the technologist about the presence of these devices at the time of the scan. If recently placed, these can give rise to inflammatory FDG uptake around them, similar to how a tumor would, so this would need to be clarified. These can also cause artifacts if the patients are undergoing a PET-CT study, with the CT data being used for correction of PET images. Usually, with prior knowledge, the radiologist is able to read around these artifacts or to recognize them on the images.