Guidelines for the Management of Patients with Coronary Artery Stents Referred for MRI Examinations

Guidelines for the Management of Patients with Coronary Artery Stents
Referred for MRI Examinations*

Frank G. Shellock, Ph.D., FACR, FISMRM, FACC

Adjunct Clinical Professor of Radiology and Medicine
Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California

Director of MRI Safety
USC Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute

University of Southern California

In the clinical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) setting, there is often misunderstanding associated with the management of patients with coronary artery stents, including confusion regarding stents labeled “MRI Safe/MRI Compatible” (i.e., due to labeling applied prior to the change in terminology, 2005) or “MR Conditional”, the timing of performing MRI following stent placement, and regarding what MRI limitations may exist (e.g., those related to the acceptable static magnetic field strength, maximum spatial gradient magnetic field, whole body averaged specific absorption rate or SAR, and other conditions)(1-3, 24). This may result in restricted access to MRI for certain patients, particularly those with coronary artery stents for which there is unknown labeling information.

Notably, the previous belief that it may be necessary to wait six weeks or longer after implantation of certain coronary artery stents to allow for endothelialization or other mechanism to prevent migration has been refuted because there are no known coronary artery stents made from ferromagnetic metallic materials (4-24).

MRI labeling information exists for numerous coronary artery stents. By following the pertinent MRI labeling information (i.e., presented in the Instructions for Use, Patient Identification Card, etc.), patients with coronary artery stents have safely undergone MRI examinations, including those performed using MR systems operating up to 3-Tesla (3-24).  Importantly, there has never been an adverse event reported in association with performing MRI in patients with these implants.

Unfortunately, the standard policy that MRI labeling information is required before allowing the use of MRI in patients with coronary artery stents limits access to this important diagnostic imaging modality for those patients for which labeling is unavailable. However, in consideration of the relevant peer-reviewed literature and other related documents (3-24), it is acceptable and safe to perform MRI examinations in patients with coronary artery stents by following specific guidelines developed by taking into consideration possible safety concerns (i.e., magnetic field interactions and MRI-related heating) for these implants.

By adhering to these admittedly conservative MRI conditions, patients with coronary artery stents can benefit from the diagnostic imaging information provided by this important noninvasive imaging modality.

Guidelines. A patient with a with coronary artery stent (including a drug-eluting, non-drug eluting or bare metal version), including situations where there are two or more stents or two or more overlapping stents, may undergo MRI using the following guidelines:  

  • 3-Tesla or less
  • No restriction for the spatial gradient magnetic field
  • Whole body averaged specific absorption rate (SAR) of 2-W/kg (i.e., operating in the Normal Operating Mode for the MR system)
  • Maximum imaging time, 15 minutes per pulse sequence (multiple pulse sequences per patient are allowed)

*Important Note: The “Guidelines for the Management of Patients with Coronary Artery Stents Referred for MRI Examinations” should only be implemented for use after the careful review by the supervising radiologist or other physician responsible for the MRI facility and with the adoption of the information as a written policy.

Important Note: This information does not apply to other stents such as peripheral vascular stents, abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) stent grafts, biliary stents, ureteral stents, or stents used for other applications (e.g., tracheobronchial stents, esophageal stents, etc.).

Important Note: Any deviation from the above MRI conditions requires prior approval by the Radiologist or supervising physician.

Important Note: These guidelines must be reviewed on an annual basis to confirm that no new coronary artery stent has become available that substantially deviates from the above MRI conditions or that is labeled, MR Unsafe.

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(23) Wang Y, et al. Magnetic resonance compatibility research for coronary metal stents. Zhongguo Yi Liao Qi Xie Za Zhi. 2015;39:61-3.



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