Abstract 1982: Interference with Implantable Electrical Active Devices by Wireless Communication Networks (WLAN) in Europe and USA
OBJECTIVE: With a rapid spread of wireless local area networks (WLAN) in offices, hospitals and home areas, the question arises whether this radio based technology might compromise pacemakers (PM) and implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD). Particularly with regard to US legal requirements (FCC) that enable higher transmitting power than european regulations (ETS), interference of conventional WLAN with PM and ICD has to be investigated.
METHODS: In this experimental in-vitro study, we tested 25 PM and 22 ICD-models of several manufacturers with two WLAN-configurations (maximum transmitting power ETS 100 mW and FCC 1000 mW) to assess the potential for interference. WLAN-setups were tested with different distances of the antenna to the device and with several transmitting modes. Interference was rated according to type and significance in 3 classes.
RESULTS: The incidence of any type of interference was 10.6 %. There was no clinical significant class 1 or 2 interference (inhibition, reprogramming, safety pacing) with any PM or ICD. Less severe class 3 interference was observed in 5 PM and was limited to telemetry interference (noise artifacts, erroneous event markers) up to 60 cm distance. Nevertheless, FCC WLAN radiation inhibited programming of emergency VVI-parameters in one PM.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study suggests that WLAN equipment in Europe and USA does not represent a significant risk to PM and ICD recipients outside hospitals. US WLAN can interfere with the function of PM-programmers and even disturb emergency telemetry. Therefore, legal, high-output access points are not recommended in areas of care and follow-up of PM- and ICD-patients.