Medicare agency recommends study before covering MRIs for patients with implants

The Medicare agency on Wednesday proposed to continue its current policy of not covering Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRIs) for patients with implanted pacemakers and cardioverter defibrillators. 

The agency in a draft memo, however, recommends conducting a clinical study to verify that MRIs' magnetic field doesn't interfere with the devices, which could either skew test results or cause the implanted devices to malfunction.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services "believes that the evidence is promising although not yet convincing that MRI will improve patient health outcomes if certain safeguards are in place to ensure that the exposure of the device to an MRI environment adversely affects neither the interpretation of the MRI result nor the proper functioning of the implanted device itself," the memo reads. "We believe that specific precautions ... could maximize benefits of MRI exposure for beneficiaries enrolled in clinical trials designed to assess the utility and safety of MRI exposure."