Aims: In induction cooktops, coils produce time-varying magnetic fields that induce eddy currents in the ferromagnetic bottom of a pot or pan, thereby heating it, while the cooktop itself remains cool. Interference with pacemaker sensing could conceivably be produced by voltages induced directly by induction or indirectly by leakage currents.
Methods and results: A worst-case pacemaker-patient (PP) model representing left-sided implantation of a unipolar pacemaker was used for measurement of induced voltages, to judge whether induction cooktops could interfere with pacemaker sensing. Eleven induction cooktops of European manufacture were tested using the PP model. The pacemaker sensitivity with respect to 24 kHz voltages, amplitude-modulated at 100 Hz, was investigated in 244 devices. The current passing through the body of a grounded patient touching a metal pot was determined by measuring the voltage from hand to hand and between electrodes placed on the thorax to simulate an implanted unipolar pacing system underneath. The results obtained were complex. If the pot is positioned concentrically with the induction coil, the smallest pot produced the largest stray field, but the induced voltage always remained below the critical value of 100 mV. With eccentrically positioned large pots, voltages of up to 800 mV could be induced. The induced voltage could always be reduced to </=60 mV by maintaining a distance of 35 cm. The most sensitive pacemaker reacted at 90.5 mV. Because of leakage current, approximately 2% of the voltage between pot and ground appears across the pacemaker's sensing input.
Conclusion: Patients are at risk if the implant is unipolar and left-sided, if they stand as close as possible to the induction cooktop, and if the pot is not concentric with the induction coil. Unipolar pacing systems can sense interference generated by leakage currents if the patient touches the pot for a long period of time. The most likely response to interference is switching to an asynchronous interference mode. Patients with unipolar pacemakers are at risk only if they are not pacemaker-dependent.