WHAT IS A PACEMAKER / MEDICAL DEVICE ELECTROMAGNETIC INTERFERENCE (EMI) ENVIRONMENTAL SITE SURVEY?
Implanted electronic biomedical devices are becoming more common in our population to address a variety of different physiological needs and conditions. The first devices were pacemakers to assist the heart’s electrical conduction functions, but has rapidly expanded to ICDs (Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator) which can shock the heart back into rhythm, CRTs, and mobile ECG / EKG (Electrocardiograms) which are also known as Holter Units or Holter Heart Monitors that measure and record the heart’s waveform to detect possible abnormalities. (particularly intermittent events)
Then other devices have appeared such as neuromodulation / neurostimulation units which deal with medical issues such as chronic pain or organ control. (SCS, VNS, SNM / SNS, etc.)
Implanted pacemakers, implantable defibrillators, EEG, (electroencephalograms) electrocardiograms, neuromodulation devices, neurostimulators including SCS (Spinal Cord Stimulators) and SNM (Sacral Neuromodulation) aka SNS (Sacral Nerve Stimulators), ambulatory EKG (Holter Units), ICDs, (Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator) Medtronic Strata CSF valve shunts, PA (Pulmonary Artery) pressure sensors, CRTs (Cardiac Re-Synchronization Therapy devices including CRT-D Defibrillator CRT-P Pacemaker), Vagus Nerve Stimulation / Stimulators (VNS) and external medical instruments such as insulin infusion pumps are all potentially susceptible to a variety of EMFs, (electromagnetic fields) EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) and electrostatic discharge (ESD) events.
ScanTech Technical Consulting has had experience in performing EMF testing and EMI surveys for the following manufacturers of implanted biomedical devices:
BIOMEDICAL DEVICE MANUFACTURERS (MAJOR)
- St. Jude Medical (now acquired by Abbott Laboratories)
- Boston Scientific
- Tandem Diabetes Care
While newer generation designs tend to be more resistant to external influences, I still routinely find sources of EMF interference that exceed the manufacturer specifications, particularly in work and industrial environments. (but residences are not exempt for reasons discussed below)
EMF Interference (EMI) can occur for a number of reasons:
1) Our electromagnetic spectrum is more crowded than ever and we are constantly adding new devices and spectral intensity to our everyday environment.
- Wireless phone chargers
- WiFi, WiMax and Bluetooth
- Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)
- Wireless microphones and media systems
- Smartphones – cell phones, cordless phones
- Security scanners for weapons detection
- RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) reader systems for entry control
- Portable music devices, Bluetooth Speakers, headphones for iPods and MP3 players
- Laptops, desktop computer power supplies
- Electric scooters, bicycles
- Internet access points and cellular phone boosters
2) Many industrial and manufacturing environments have equipment which broadcasts EMFs at relatively high power levels over a broad range of frequencies:
- Electric welding equipment (MIG, TIG, SMAW, etc.) and welders
- Corded and cordless power tools
- Generators, alternators
- RF clam shell sealers
- Semiconductor fabrication plant assets
- UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) banks & DC battery backups
- Nanotechnology lab equipment
- AC and DC motors found in blower motors / fans, HVAC equipment, pumps
- Walkie-talkie base stations & 2 Way Radio Microphones
- Induction furnaces
- Switchgear rooms with 4160 VAC, 480 VAC, etc.
- High powered DC Rectifier arrays
- Transformers, high voltage power lines & substations
These can all cause malfunctions and intermittent operation in nearby mission critical electronics. I have even found significant DC magnetization in the structural metal of buildings and in ferrous alloy stock.
3) There are environments which may have unexpected sources of high magnetic fields. I once did a survey of an exhibit in a museum where one of the display items (a plasma display) possessed an unusually high magnetic field that was worth investigating. Hospitals and scientific research centers may have MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) equipment which uses exceptionally strong DC magnets and Radio Frequencies.
4) Even in conventional office buildings you have server rooms, electrical rooms and conventional power transformers next to employee working areas. It is also not unusual for some areas to have “rogue” transmitters for personal wireless or even corporate eavesdropping devices.
The confluence of the above effects may cause unexpected performance issues in even the most sophisticated biomedical devices and equipment through either radiated near field or conducted interference.
RF & wireless interference is a common issue in many mysterious anomaly situations. Computer controlled systems can be highly susceptible to interference from both radiated and conducted sources, and this can include server rooms, A/V equipment, security systems, hospital monitoring systems, etc.
As more technologies such as WiFi, 5G, Bluetooth, RFID and other communication linked technologies began to saturate offices and manufacturing plants, the potential for conflicts only increases. An experienced consulting company such as ScanTech can help minimize downtime and frustrating delays by quickly isolating and mitigating such interference problems.
ScanTech also has experience in working with child / infant anti-abduction systems by Stanley Healthcare (HUGS) and McRoberts Security Technologies. (MyChild)
While ScanTech is based in the Dallas – Fort Worth area, we have done numerous EMI surveys for biomedical devices and bio-instrumentation in the Houston – Austin area and nationwide.
Biomedical imaging including X-Ray projection radiology, MRIs, (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) CT (Computed Tomography) machines, ultrasound and other diagnostic equipment is subject to interference from a variety of sources including the power mains, computer interface, etc. particularly since they can be operated in a variety of modes under varying environmental conditions.
ScanTech has experience in working with bio instrumentation, biomedical sensors, X-Ray equipment, portable MRIs, and taken coursework covering the fundamental physics behind nuclear medicine, radiology, ultrasound and other imaging modalities.
(includes a link to 3D Slicer below)
Resource for sample DICOM Medical Image Files