Electromagnetic interference of digital and analog cellular telephones with implantable cardioverter defibrillators: in vitro and in vivo studies

Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 1999 Apr;22(4 Pt 1):626-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-8159.1999.tb00504.x.


The present study examines the potential electromagnetic interference effects induced by cellular telephones on ICDs. We developed ad hoc protocols to conduct both in vitro and in vivo trials on most of the implantable cardioverter defibrillators available on the international market. Trials were conducted with three cellular telephones: two GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) and one TACS (Total Access Communication System). A human trunk simulator was used to carry out in vitro observations on six ICDs from five manufacturers. In vivo tests were conducted on 13 informed patients with eight different ICD models. During the trials in air, GSM telephones induced interference effects on 4 out of the 6 cardioverter defibrillators tested. Specifically, pulse inhibition, reprogramming, false ventricular fibrillation, and ventricular tachycardia detections occurred, which would have entailed inappropriate therapy delivery had this been activated. Effects were circumscribed to the area closely surrounding the connectors. When the ICD was immersed in saline solution, no effects were observed. Three cases of just ventricular triggering with the interfering signal were observed in vivo.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Defibrillators, Implantable*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Electronics, Medical / instrumentation
  • Equipment Design
  • Equipment Failure
  • Equipment Safety
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Materials Testing
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / physiopathology
  • Tachycardia, Ventricular / therapy
  • Telephone*
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / physiopathology
  • Ventricular Fibrillation / therapy